Huge swaths of the Philippine capital were submerged by Typhoon Vamco, which flooded an estimated 40,000 homes and knocked out power for millions of people.
Huge swaths of the Philippine capital were submerged by Typhoon Vamco, which flooded an estimated 40,000 homes and knocked out power for millions of people.
ATLANTA — After weathering criticism for certifying President Donald Trump's narrow election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, Republican officials in Georgia are proposing additional requirements for the state's vote-by-mail process, despite no evidence of systemic fraud or irregularities. Two state Senate committees held hearings Thursday to begin a review of Georgia’s voting laws. Republicans are zeroing in on a plan to require a photo ID for ballots cast by mail. Voting rights activists and Democrats argue that the change isn't necessary and would disenfranchise voters. Biden beat Trump by just over 12,500 votes in Georgia, with Biden receiving nearly twice as many of the record number of absentee ballots as the Republican president, according to the secretary of state's office. A recount requested by Trump was wrapping up and wasn't expected to change the overall outcome. Trump, who for months has sowed unsubstantiated doubt about the integrity of mail-in votes, has also made baseless claims of widespread fraud in the presidential race in Georgia. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff have vehemently rebuffed those claims, stating unequivocally that there is no evidence of systemic errors or fraud in last month's election. Yet Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans who have been publicly lambasted by Trump, have joined the push to require a photo ID for absentee voting. “Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting,” Kemp said in remarks streamed live online. Kemp faced accusations of voter suppression during his successful 2018 run for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, an election he oversaw as Georgia's previous secretary of state. He vehemently denied the allegations. Kemp faces reelection — and a possible rematch against Abrams — in 2022. Raffensperger also has suggested allowing state officials to intervene in counties that have systemic problems with administering elections and broadening the ways in which challenges can be posed to votes cast by residents who don’t live where they say. The photo ID idea has support among several members of the state legislature, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan. “I don't think there should be different standards for the same process,” Dugan said in an interview. Republican House Speaker David Ralston has been skeptical of voting by mail, telling a local news outlet in April that increased mail voting “will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia.” Political analysts have said that typically more Democrats than Republicans use mail-in ballots. Ralston later said he was not talking about his party losing an advantage but the potential for fraud. “We must do everything in our power to ensure votes are not stolen, cast fraudulently or plagued by administrative errors,” he said in a statement this week. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said in an interview with The Associated Press that currently anyone who knows someone’s name, address and date of birth can request an absentee ballot on that person’s behalf. She said that while signature matches provide some security for mail-in ballots, the process should be shored up. One way to do that could be to require a person's driver's license number or a photocopy of a separate form of ID, she said. “We need to secure all avenues that we can of absentee ballots so we never have a candidate run around this state again saying the election was stolen because of absentee ballots,” she said. While Republicans seem ready to press forward with the photo ID requirement during the upcoming legislative session, Democrats and civil rights organizations are raising alarms. With no evidence of widespread fraud or other problems in the election, it doesn’t make sense to talk about measures that could ultimately prove to be barriers to voting, said Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?" she asked. “The rule should be first, ‘Do no harm’ when it comes to democracy, and whenever there are more restrictions being put on a process, you run the risk of disenfranchising Georgia citizens.” Young says adding a photo ID requirement for absentee voting would be harmful because “we know that these barriers have a different impact on African American voters, on younger voters and, in this instance, on seniors who have certainly earned the right” to vote. State Sen. Jen Jordan, an Atlanta Democrat, echoed Young’s concerns, saying Republicans were offering solutions in search of a problem. “What this says to me is that they just don’t want people voting," Jordan said. “And they specifically don’t want Democrats voting, or people that don’t support their chosen candidates voting, and they’re going to try to make it as hard as possible." Democrats and voting rights groups have for years sought to decrease rejections of absentee ballots in Georgia, arguing that minorities have been disproportionately affected. Absentee ballots are sometimes rejected because signatures on the outer envelope are deemed not to match signatures in the voter registration system, or because the envelope is not signed at all. An agreement signed in March to settle a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party spells out a standard process that must be used statewide to judge the signatures. That agreement has been the subject of much of Trump's online ire, and he has incorrectly said it “makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes.” Ben Nadler And Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
Husky Energy is getting $41.5 million from the Newfoundland and Labrador government to keep the idled West White Rose offshore oil project going, particularly to "protect the option of re-starting" in the next year — although there is no guarantee that will happen.The announcement came Thursday morning in a news conference that involved Premier Andrew Furey, provincial Energy Minister Andrew Parsons, federal Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan and Husky senior vice-president Jonathan Brown. The money is coming from the government's Oil and Gas Industry Recovery Fund, and is the first project to get financial help from that source.The $41.5 million is half the total project cost. Husky Energy will be kicking in the other half. Furey said the work related to the project will happen in 2021, and it will mean 331 jobs. Specifically, there will be 169 positions in project management and engineering, and 162 tradespersons at the Port of Argentia and a fabrication facility in Marystown.The money keeps the project — one of Newfoundland and Labrador's biggest offshore operations — alive for now.> The signal you've received from Husky today is that they're planning to move forward. \- Andrew FureyIt's known as "warm suspension," and it's only an option, not a certainty, that the project will fully re-start."Everyone wants a crystal ball, but of course we don't have one and we don't have that certainty," Furey told reporters following the conference."But I think the signal you've received from Husky today is that they're planning to move forward. They recognize the value of this project."'One heck of a Christmas surprise': O'ReganO'Regan called the announcement "one heck of a Christmas surprise for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and their families."He said the announcement was not merely a "government handout" but instead called it a "strategic investment" in the offshore oil industry, which was thrown into turmoil this spring when the COVID-19 pandemic caused oil prices to plummet. "We believe in our workers, we believe in this industry and we believe in its future," O'Regan added. O'Regan acknowledged there will not be an entirely smooth road in the coming months. "Spring is coming and the vaccines are coming, but we have a hard winter ahead," he said.A 'first step back in the right direction,' says Husky VPBrown, Husky's senior vice-president for the Atlantic region, said the announcement will put the project in a better position for a 2022 restart, allowing project capability and skilled workers in the province to be retained."This is the first step back in the right direction for the White Rose project," Brown said. "But one of many steps still ahead."Brown said the announcement is positive news in what has been a "year of tough decisions" on the project, which has suspended construction until 2021.He said work in Marystown will continue on projects like life boats, helipads and a flare tower, while the maintenance and preservation program will continue in Argentia.Opposition, NDP looking for guaranteesFollowing the press conference, NDP Leader Alison Coffin voiced concern over the project's continued precariousness, citing the agreement's reliance on unnamed "conditions.""We've been given no idea of what those conditions are," she told reporters Thursday."Do we have to put even more money into this? Are the conditions that the price of oil has to go up?...We have no guarantees."PC Leader Ches Crosbie echoed a similar sentiment, saying Furey "should be moving heaven and earth" to restart the project. He also questioned the number of new jobs to come from the announcement."What we're hearing is that the 331 jobs that they're claiming, more than half of those ... are already in existence," he said. "So the actual number of jobs created by all that money is not what they're claiming it's going to be."Coffin said the money could have been better spent diversifying the economy, opening more work opportunities for those who may not be able to re-enter the oil and gas sector."I think there are better ways to spend this money, to ensure that the workers who need to go back to work have employment," she said.Latest development in a roller coaster ride for workers, projectThat Oil and Gas Industry Recovery Fund was announced Sept. 25, with the federal government allocating $320 million for the N.L. government to support direct and indirect employment. Furey appointed a task force with the same name, chaired by Bill Fanning and Karen Winsor, who were also on hand for Thursday's announcement. The announcement is the latest development in a saga that started in April, when Husky announced it was stopping construction on the project, as the global pandemic battered oil markets. Hundreds of workers were laid off.At the time, the project was nearly 60 per cent complete.In October, Husky said construction was cancelled for 2021 as well.That news came just days after Cenovus Energy announced it would buy Husky Energy in a deal worth nearly $4 billion. In a statement, Cenovus said regarding Husky's operations in the province "the WWR [West White Rose] project is key to extending the life of the White Rose field. As we have said before, all options are on the table and accelerating abandonment remains a possibility."When asked about Cenovus walking away from the project once the merger is complete, Brown said it's too early to know. He said his team is committed to continuing the West White Rose project."I think that really understates the level of commitment that we've already shown to the project," he said. "The responsibility everyone feels to completing the project and the effort … don't underestimate the importance of that."He said a review of Husky's East Coast operations that the corporation had announced in September are also still ongoing."We have to create a path forward," Brown said."Yes, I'd love to have a decision tomorrow, but I'd also like … the economy to stabilize, the oil prices to improve, because they'll provide a better basis for that decision."Take that decision too early, it might not be the one you want."Husky has been asking both the federal and provincial governments for money to save West White Rose, but both governments have rejected the company's pitch to buy a stake in the project.Newfoundland and Labrador, through its Crown corporation Nalcor Energy, already owns a five per cent stake in the project.Read more stories from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
The Grand Chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) said he was "disappointed" to hear the federal government acknowledge it would not meet the deadline it set for itself to end all long-term boil water advisories in First Nations.The announcement was made on Wednesday by federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller, who instead announced more than $1.5 billion in long-term funding to help build "a sustainable system that ensures that First Nation communities have access to safe drinking water now and for generations to come."Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler welcomed the announcement of more money for long-term solutions, but said the announcement still doesn't address the needs of people today."It's disheartening for our communities, including Neskantaga [First Nation]. You know, their members are still here in Thunder Bay at a hotel. We don't know when the repatriation process will begin. And it's not just Neskantaga in NAN territory. We have a total of  boil water advisories impacting communities, including my own community of Muskrat Dam since 2004," said Fiddler."So it's something that we've been living with for a long time now."It was during the 2015 federal election that Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau promised to end all boil water advisories on First Nations within five years — which later translated to March 2021. The government even created a website page to track their progress.But during a briefing on Wednesday, senior officials with Indigenous Services Canada said they expect 22 First Nations will still be under a boil water advisory beyond the spring of 2021.The federal minister added the goal of March 2021 "was made to drive forward actions to address drinking water issues and … this approach has worked.""Over 600 water and wastewater projects have been initiated in First Nations communities; 97 long-term drinking water advisories were lifted and importantly, 171 long-term advisories were prevented [by resolving the issues before a short-term advisory turned into a long-term one]," Miller said.He added that the long-term funding will help end all boil water advisories, cover ongoing maintenance costs and improve the training and retention of water plant operators in communities.Fiddler said moving forward, the federal government must commit to doing this work in close collaboration with First Nations."We will feel a bit more comfortable about all this when we see all these commitments in writing and a commitment to work with us in a way that reflects true partnership."
Donna Gerardi says her 28-year-old son fell through the cracks of the healthcare system when his cancer diagnosis went undetected for months and progressed to a late stage. At the end of last year, Gerardi said her son was referred to a specialist with a number of symptoms, including lower abdominal pain. Gerardi did not want to disclose his original diagnosis but said he was given antibiotics. The specialist said surgery was a likely next step. At that time, there was no talk of cancer, Gerardi said. While taking the antibiotics, he began to feel a little better, but it didn't last long. By then, the pandemic was in full swing and Gerardi's son welcomed a baby, so he attributed his fatigue and body pains to having a newborn. He was also having a difficult time trying to see his family doctor and his specialist with all the restrictions, Gerardi said.Throughout the summer he had two phone consultations with the specialist, whose office was not open to in-person visits. She says despite the pain he was feeling, he didn't go the emergency room because he believed he had received his diagnosis and was waiting for surgery. But by August, Gerardi said she instantly knew he needed immediate attention. "I looked at him, I said to him, 'you have to go back to your family doctor. You have to go see somebody. You're getting worse, something is seriously wrong," she said. "At the beginning when he couldn't see his doctor, I actually said ... 'okay, I don't understand this. Why can't you see doctors? What happens to these patients who are really sick right now and may have even cancer?" As it turned out, he was really sick — when he finally saw his primary care doctor in September and got an ultrasound, he was diagnosed with stage 3 germ cell cancer.Four tumours were located throughout his body. Though he experienced symptoms back in December 2019, he wasn't diagnosed until late September. Gerardi said her son is focusing on his recovery — he is being treated by Windsor Regional Hospital's cancer centre — and did not want to be interviewed.But she's decided to speak out because she thinks others may have also been negatively impacted by pandemic-related healthcare shutdowns. And according to board chair of Patients Canada Francesca Grosso, the inability to attend an in-person medical exam and the hesitation with accessing care, were not uncommon at the start of the pandemic. Health care system doesn't prioritize patientsWhen COVID-19 first hit, Grosso said the combination of healthcare shutdowns and restrictions, along COVID-19 fears caused many patients to not be seen. "A lot of patients postponed going in to get diagnostic testing done because they were afraid ... you're worried that you're going to run into people who may be infected with COVID ... there was a lot of unknown, people were terrified," she said. On top of that, primary care physicians and specialists chose to operate in different ways, with some only taking video or phone appointments.'I think that there should have been more outreach for those patients that are really dire ... but we don't have a system that really prioritizes patients in a way that flags for the doctor that a certain cohort of their patients require urgent follow up," Grosso said. "It's sort of left up to the patient, the squeaky wheel, or its left up to the doctor's office to call them, which often doesn't happen."As for Gerardi's son, Grosso said she said it sounds like he tried to be the "squeaky wheel, but couldn't get through."These situations, Grosso said, are not unique to COVID-19, rather the pandemic has only pulled back the curtain on the province's health care faults. And based on recent data, Gerardi's son isn't the only one facing a dire prognosis because of these faults. With the Ministry of Health suspending some types of cancer screening and select municipalities cancelling surgeries at the start of COVID-19, there is now reportedly an increase in late-stage cancer diagnoses across the province. Locally, Windsor Regional Hospital said its cancer centre was one of few locations in the province that kept up with cancer treatments and surgeries. A hospital spokesperson said their centre completed 549 cancer surgeries between April 1 and the end of October. They said the cancer centre never shut down and patients were seen virtually as well as in-person. But that only covers people who received a cancer diagnosis pre-COVID. "My concern [is] how did patients get diagnosed with cancer through COVID?" Gerardi said. "[My son] wasn't considered in all that math, and I'm sure there's other people out there that were getting sick and they couldn't see anybody. It was so frustrating to find this out. Okay, I get it, [he] has cancer. But why did it have to get this far? Why did it have to get this bad? I get that back in March the government shut the whole place down, but he was sick." Cancer centre referrals downAccording to data from Windsor Regional Hospital's cancer centre, there has been a decrease in cancer treatment referrals. Between April and September this year, the hospital is reporting an 11.6 per cent decrease in radiation treatment referrals and a six per cent decrease in systemic or chemotherapy treatment referrals compared to the same time period in 2019. "There's always concern," said WRH's regional vice president of cancer services Monica Staley Liang of the decrease in referrals. "What I can say is and what I'm confident in saying is that we have a plan for resumption of screening and resumption of services and innovative ways to optimize capacity."As for whether Windsor has seen a jump in late stage cancer diagnoses, the hospital said the region hasn't see it and is uncertain whether it will. "I can't foresee that ... we don't know what we don't know," she said. "We do look at what we've seen in other parts of the province, we look at that and we prepare for that ... there is that population of the unknown that have not been screened who have not arrived at primary care yet and we'll have to wait and see what that looks like in the near futureShe added that they continue to encourage people to access hospital resources during the pandemic. 'A long way ahead of him' While what's done is done, Gerardi firmly believes that her son shouldn't have gotten to this point. "Now that we've sat down and the fear and the sadness have settled, that's when the anger comes in. How did this kid get to stage three, where his life is turned upside down?" she said. These days, Gerardi stays in complete isolation so that she can continue to see her son and support him during his treatments. With tumours on both of his lungs, he can't risk getting COVID-19, she said. At this time, her son seems to be responding well to treatment though she said he still has "a long way ahead of him."
Since marijuana was legalized in Canada in 2018, Windsor-Essex has seen an influx of cannabis growers in the area, most raising crops in a highly controlled environment, such as under greenhouse glass and wild bright lights, designed for year-round farming.But 7 Farms Down, a company in Merlin, Ont. in the Chatham-Kent region is going the old fashioned route — it will grow their crops outside in the field.Jason Guttridge, one of the owners of the company, said after four years of bouncing around the idea with his brother and trying to make it a reality, they finally received their cultivation license on Friday. "I can't say it was easy because it definitely wasn't, but I think it would be worth it in the long run to bring a different product onto the shelf," he said.Guttridge said he and his team come from an agricultural family and are already familiar with traditional agricultural practices, and will apply those harvesting techniques to grow "small-batch, handcrafted outdoor cannabis.""There's a lot of proven agricultural techniques that are already kind of readily available to us. I don't really have to go reinventing the wheel," he said.He said growing outdoors has many benefits compared to growing in a greenhouse, including reduced costs, and "free sun and rain."Pests also becomes less of an issue when growing outside because he says "there's going to be beneficial insects around.""For every insect that's out there, there's an equal and opposite insect that wants to take care of itself," he said. "We grow well and we're adaptable. So, you know, whatever Mother Nature wants to throw at us, we're pretty confident that we can, you know, contend with it."'New, growing industry,' says company ownerWhen asked about how his neighbours feel about him growing cannabis, Guttridge told CBC News that he's just trying to give "a little bit of success to a small community.""There's a lot of opinions, but what I'm trying to do here, you know, is 100 per cent by the books. We jump through every hoop to get through Health Canada. I'm trying to build something positive for my local community where I was born and raised. And we can bring some economic activity here," he said."At the end of the day, this is a new, growing industry."Small-batch, handcrafted outdoor cannabisGuttridge said the company expects to grow less than five acres of marijuana this spring."It isn't so much about how much can we plant and how much can I put out like from a production level, but how high of a quality can I put out? So, you know, we might be able to fit a thousand plants in an acre, might even be able to fit 1,500 plants in an acre at the end of the day. That isn't my main concern," he said."My main concern is, you know, how much high quality product came out of that acre. So that number will change."He hopes his company's products will be hitting shelves by late summer or fall of next year.
Don never thought he'd end up homeless, but that's what happened to the 58-year-old earlier this year. The St. John's man — CBC is withholding his surname — said that for most of his adult life he had steady employment and a place to live.But Don got divorced and had difficulty holding down a job due to mental illness. When Newfoundland and Labrador went into lockdown in March, he had just moved out of his apartment. "I was about to move from a rental property I had, and at the time, with the pandemic," he said. "I really had nowhere to go.… I was never homeless in my life until this year." Don has been living in a shelter for seniors on Prince of Wales Street in St. John's since then. It's called Connections for Seniors and it's a shelter for people over the age of 55. Co-founder and executive director Mohamed Abdallah said the eight-bed facility has been full since it opened in early 2018. Abdallah said he and his co-founder saw a need in the community and went into action."I remember we said, 'Let's not complain about it and let's start to do something about it.'"To date, the organization has helped more than 450 people, and running it has become Abdallah's full time job.The people who come to the shelter are also given meals and transportation to appointments. Abdallah called it a "wrap-around service" to help people navigate the health-care system and find permanent housing. For him, helping seniors is also about respect."We still need our seniors' experience. We still need their wisdom, we still need to respect our elders," he said. Demand rising Older adults, like Don, without proper housing are not alone.Thousands of seniors in the St. John's area are in need of more affordable, and accessible, housing, says Elizabeth Seigel, director of information and referral services at Seniors NL.Seigel said in 2019 she got about 500 calls from people who needed a place to live, some of them urgent. "Quite often it does mean that people are living in 'not great' situations. Sometimes they go into rooming houses. We've heard cases of elder abuse because people are sort of forced into situations that they wouldn't otherwise be in." When people get older their housing needs change, said Seigel. Income can change, especially if one loses a spouse. "They can't live in their house anymore because of accessibility, mobility.… It's hard keeping up with snow clearing, that sort of thing," Said Seigel.After January's massive blizzard, Seigel's office got even more calls."We heard from so many people who said, 'I just can't do it anymore,'" she said. Many new options There are a number of new facilities being built — and opening up this fall — specifically for seniors, on the Northeast Avalon. Seigel said that proves the need is rising, but added some of them come at a great cost — probably $3,000 to $4,000 if you include food, she said."People have to realize that that's for a certain segment of the population, and the other segment of the population probably doesn't have a place to go." Seigel said many of the lower-cost and subsidized options have significant wait times. For example, she said, the 54 independent living cottages at St. Luke's in the west end of St. John's can have wait times of up to 10 years.Subsidized units from Newfoundland and Labrador Housing can be a one- to two-year wait said Seigel, but seniors don't have that kind of time. "When people decide to move, it's because they need to immediately," she said.Shelter expansion Abdallah hopes to help more seniors who need immediate shelter. Connections for Seniors is working with the City of St. John's to provide more supportive housing units in the near future. That's the kind of solution that Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O'Leary is pushing for. She said the city operates more than 450 units in its non-profit housing division.O'Leary told The St. John's Morning Show that many of those are geared toward seniors, such as the two-bedroom apartments at Riverhead Towers on Hamilton Avenue, 11 units on Campbell Avenue and a newer building on Convent Square. She said there is an application process and that wait times vary, but it's longer for the most affordable units.O'Leary said demand for affordable housing is rising."We have a long way to go in terms of serving the needs of people with housing insecurity in the community — and with the pandemic, we are seeing more and more people moving in this direction." She said the city is working to make land available and hopes to partner with more organizations, and the private sector, to build more affordable homes. As for Don, he said things are looking brighter. He said he's close to securing a unit from NL Housing thanks to Abdallah and the staff at Connections for Seniors."It looks like I'm on the road to recovery and finding my own place through them helping me," he said. "They don't turn their back on you. I think it's amazing."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
The number of families seeking holiday help has increased in Cape Breton, including people who are finding themselves in need for the first time.With fundraising impacted by the pandemic, resources are spread particularly thin this year, said Maj. Corey Vincent of the Salvation Army.The Christian organization will support 900 families in Cape Breton this Christmas — an increase of about 25 per cent. "These are families that have never sought help before or assistance," said Vincent. "They're unfamiliar with Christmas assistance because they've been able to provide for their families in the past, but because of COVID and unemployment, they've just been stressed to the max." Kettle campaign down $14KThe pandemic has brought a wide range of challenges for the Salvation Army on the island. Partnering organizations have been unable to sponsor as many families this year. Another blow has been dealt to the well-known kettle campaign, which Vincent said is down by $14,000 compared to last year. "That worries me," said Vincent. "But in previous years, we've always noticed that in December a lot of people who give, they're giving more. "I'm very, very confident that the people of Cape Breton will step up to the plate." Each year, volunteers with the Every Woman's Centre in Sydney help by purchasing gifts and other items for families sponsored by the organization's adopt-a-family program.Louise Smith-MacDonald, executive director of the centre, said the extra help contributes to about half of the Christmas items purchased. "Our unknown was whether people were going to feel comfortable in going out and shopping for the family that they adopted," she said. "It worked out absolutely wonderful. People took their families, they shopped, they shopped early."Providing meals a necessityMembers of the Sydney Sunrise Rotary Club decided early that fundraising from last year would be spent on COVID relief.The club recently donated $2,500 each to the Glace Bay food bank and Loaves and Fishes in Sydney. "We did a little bit of research and for us, we felt the money was best put to help with food insecurity," said Michele McKinnon, the club's public relations chair. "That's where we saw our money could perhaps benefit most people."McKinnon expects next year giving will be impacted by the pandemic's cancellation of two major fundraisers for the club. Cape Breton poverty visibleVincent, who has been ministering with the Salvation Army for almost 20 years across Canada, said poverty is more visible in Cape Breton compared to other areas where he's lived."Every day we're seeing clients coming through our facility that are basically living on the edge," he said."We see a lot of working-class poor where they're getting hours, they're working — but it's just not enough to meet the demands."MORE TOP STORIES
A group representing francophone and Acadian communities on P.E.I. is encouraging Islanders to write to their MPs about modernizing the federal Official Languages Act. Société acadienne et francophone de l'Île-du-Prince-Édouard (SAF'Île) says the 50-year-old act is out of date and that's creating inequalities in the way Islanders receive French-language services. "If we say that we are a bilingual country, then the federal government really needs to put the means and resources to live up to it," said Isabelle Dasylva-Gill, executive director of SAF'Île (formerly the Société Saint-Thomas d'Aquin).Lack of bilingual workforce Dasylva-Gill said one of the big issues is a lack of a bilingual workforce to provide services in areas such as child care, education, and health care. And that affects francophones trying to access services in their first language."If you want to register your child for French-language daycare [on P.E.I.], well most of the time there is a huge waiting list," said Dasylva-Gill."Because there are not the resources available to be able to have a spot."When that happens, said Dasylva-Gill, parents must put their kids into English-language daycare, which can lead to assimilation.Dasylva-Gill emphasized that the act also affects anglophones on P.E.I., in particular parents who want their children to have equal access to learn French through an immersion program. "If you don't have the resources to provide those programs, that's where the act is not living up to the demand," Dasylva-Gill said. Group says act not accountable enough She said that if Islanders feel they are not getting equal treatment under the act, it's hard to know where to speak up about it. "The mechanisms that are in place are not reliable enough to make sure that the act actually is respected by the federal institutions."The act also includes targets for bilingual immigrants who can work in the health care and education sectors.> As a society, we have a responsibility to make our voices heard — Isabelle Dasylva-Gill, SAF'Île"Year after year, there is less than two per cent of immigrants that settle outside of Quebec that are French speaking," said Dasylva-Gill. She said it's an asset for all businesses to be able to employ more bilingual workers, which helps the economy. "Really, it's the act of all Canadians when you think about the bigger picture." SAF'Île wants Islanders to send a letter to their MP about modernizing the Official Languages Act, and it has a template on its website. "As a society, we have a responsibility to make our voices heard," said Dasylva-Gill.More from CBC P.E.I.
Here's the latest for Thursday December 3rd: California considers strict new COVID rules; Trump repeats electoral fraud claims; NY bar owner arrested for breaking coronavirus rules; Landslide in Alaska.
Laboratories testing for COVID-19 in Nova Scotia are now equipped to handle as many as 5,000 tests per day.It's a number that has yet to be reached, but the amount of daily tests has been creeping up since the start of the second wave earlier this fall, reaching a record high of 4,138 reported Tuesday."We're adjusting our capacity essentially in real time as the pandemic shifts," said Tim Mailman, senior medical director for the pathology and lab medicine program at Nova Scotia Health.Epidemiologists tracking the spread of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia predicted about two weeks ago that demand for testing would grow to 5,000, said Mailman. That's double the daily tests the province could handle in mid-November, so the labs started shifting resources."It's been a complex logistical system to ramp up in a short period of time, but we've managed to do it," said Mailman.Once centralized at the QEII Health Sciences Centre microbiology lab, some regional hospitals around the province are now processing tests, and Mailman said there are plans to bring more locations on board.The next level of growth would be for 7,000 tests per day — something that's been talked about, but isn't yet in the works. For now, Mailman said Public Health has asked the health authority to stay ready for 5,000 daily tests.Lab technologists highly sought afterThe biggest obstacle to growing lab capacity is the availability of trained lab technologists. While the health authority has been able to recruit more clerical staff, technologists have been harder to find."The biggest challenge has been human resources. There's been a long-standing Canadian shortage of medical lab technologists. It's a very highly sought after specialty," he said."There are no unemployed lab technologists in the province — at least, none that want to be working."With that dearth of workers, the health authority has scaled back on lab activity not related to the coronavirus to accommodate the surge in COVID-19 swabs coming in. Some testing that is considered routine has been put on pause or is only going ahead with a special request from physicians.Routine testing is one of three broad categories used in provincial labs. Mailman said the other two categories — urgent testing, which physicians need completed within a matter of hours to properly diagnose and treat patients, and stat testing, needed within minutes — won't be affected by COVID-19 protocols.Included in the routine category is screening for some sexually transmitted infections. Dr. Joyce Curtis, medical director of the Halifax Sexual Health Centre, said that leaves the possibility of an uptick in STI spread — although it isn't a top concern for her."We can always do presumptive treatment," Curtis said.By Mailman's estimation, limiting some routine lab work will be no more than an inconvenience."For the vast majority of Nova Scotians, the scale backs will be invisible," he said.New instruments on the wayNew testing equipment from the national microbiology lab in Winnipeg is en route to Nova Scotia, according to Mailman, which won't necessarily make a big mark on capacity, but will offer an important refinement to the province's testing practices.The instruments test for over 20 respiratory viruses at once."So as we approach flu season, that's going to be quite helpful because those platforms will allow us to distinguish COVID from the common cold, from influenza," said Mailman.Not every possible COVID-19 case that comes in for testing will go through those instruments; they'll likely be reserved for those who are admitted with symptoms, or people who need to be screened before surgery.MORE TOP STORIES
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A mysterious object temporarily orbiting Earth is a 54-year-old rocket, not an asteroid after all, astronomers confirmed Wednesday. Observations by a telescope in Hawaii clinched its identity, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The object was classified as an asteroid after its discovery in September. But NASA’s top asteroid expert, Paul Chodas, quickly suspected it was the Centaur upper rocket stage from Surveyor 2, a failed 1966 moon-landing mission. Size estimates had put it in the range of the old Centaur, which was about 32 feet (10 metres) long and 10 feet (3 metres) in diameter. Chodas was proven right after a team led by the University of Arizona's Vishnu Reddy used an infrared telescope in Hawaii to observe not only the mystery object, but — just on Tuesday — a Centaur from 1971 still orbiting Earth. The data from the images matched. “Today’s news was super gratifying!,” Chodas said via email. “It was teamwork that wrapped up this puzzle.” The object formally known as 2020 SO entered a wide, lopsided orbit around Earth last month and, on Tuesday, made its closest approach at just over 31,000 miles (50,476 kilometres). It will depart the neighbourhood in March, shooting back into its own orbit around the sun. Its next return: 2036. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press
BRUSSELS — A senior legal adviser said Thursday that the European Union’s top court should reject Hungary’s attempts to overturn a European Parliament action aimed at holding the country to account for what lawmakers consider to be a breach of the bloc’s values.Advocate General Michal Bobek recommended that the European Court of Justice “dismiss Hungary’s action as unfounded.” Advocates General routinely provide legal guidance to the ECJ. Their opinions aren't binding on the Luxembourg-based court, but are followed in most cases.The EU parliament launched a procedure in 2018 to force Hungary’s EU partners to sanction the government in Budapest over concerns about the country’s constitutional and electoral systems, the independence of its judiciary, corruption and conflicts of interest, as well as fundamental rights concerns.The “Article 7” procedure was contained in a resolution that was adopted in a 448-197 vote, while 48 lawmakers abstained. Hungary argued that had the abstentions been taken into account, the vote wouldn't have achieved the required two-thirds majority.In Bobek’s opinion, a person who abstains from a vote asks to be counted as neither in favour nor against a proposition, and to be treated as if they weren't voting at all. He also said that EU lawmakers had been informed more than a day before the poll that abstentions wouldn't be counted as votes cast.It’s the first time the parliament has launched such a procedure. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, has also taken similar action against Hungary. If four-fifths of Hungary’s 26 EU partners agree “there is a clear risk of a serious breach” of the bloc’s values, Budapest could lose its voting rights.The EU’s treaty says the bloc “is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.”The Associated Press
A fishing tournament organizer and TV personality has brought his business to New Brunswick after being fined $9,000 and losing his Ontario fishing licence for not reporting the nearly 200 dead bass he threw into a dumpster.Ben Woo was convicted of failing to abide by the terms and conditions of the licence allowing tournament organizers to transport fish to be weighed and measured before they were returned live to the water. After the incident, Woo relocated to southern New Brunswick, where he's continued to organize fishing tournaments under the name B1 Fishing, including two in partnership with the City of Fredericton. According to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, 195 dead bass were found after Woo's tournament on the St. Lawrence River near Gananoque on July 15, 2019. Of that number, 188 were in plastic bags at the bottom of a dumpster. It's one of the largest fines handed out, and one of the most serious violations the department has recorded. "This was by far the most heinous one I've ever seen," said Greg Bourne, a staff sergeant who has been with the Ontario ministry for 21 years.Bourne said anglers called in the tip about the fish-dumping on the opening day of the two-day weekend tournament. "People who were at the tournament called our communication centre and complained that there seemed to be a lot fish dying at this bass tournament," said Bourne. Bourne said someone was dispatched on the second day of the tournament to check it out but was reassigned to another call. An officer didn't make it to the marina where the fish were being kept until the day after the tournament ended. But anglers also contacted Bruce Tufts, a professor at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., head of the Freshwater Fisheries Conservation Lab, and the biologist who helped craft Ontario's guidelines for handling fish during tournaments. They sent him photos of the fish — some already dead — in the tank where they were kept after being measured and weighed. Tufts said the pictures bothered him so much he barely slept that night. "I called my lab manager at 6 o'clock in the morning and said 'This is really bugging me, there's got to be a ton of dead fish down there,'"Tufts, along with some of his students and another angler, got permission from the marina owner to search the area for what they suspected would be a large number of dead bass. They were later joined by a conservation officer from the Ministry of Natural Resources. "We started finding dead fish in the bushes," said Tufts. "We found a few dead fish in the water." Tufts said a marina employee pointed them to a dumpster. "In the bottom, there were 17 bags of smallmouth bass that were the biggest, best, broodstock in our fishery," said Tufts.According to both Tufts and Bourne, the fish died as a result of lack of oxygen and inadequate water temperatures in the holding tank where they'd been placed after being weighed.The Ontario ministry requires that if more than five per cent of the fish caught during the tournament die while in the possession of the event, the government must be immediately contacted. "We believe the organizer was negligent in the way he handled the fish, and that's what resulted in the deaths of so many," said Bourne.Tufts said the fish were double-bagged, and other garbage had been piled on top. Woo originally faced 11 charges, including giving a false statement to a conservation officer, but in the end pleadedguilty to one: failing to abide by the terms and conditions of a licence. Move to New Brunswick Woo and his family moved to Tracyville, about 28 kilometres south of Fredericton, last year.The former Montreal resident is prohibited from holding a fishing licence in Ontario, but that does not bar him from fishing in other provinces. He said his move to New Brunswick was for personal reasons and not an effort to circumvent the Ontario penalty. Inthe wake of his conviction, he said, he's no longer hosting fishing tournaments."Absolutely 100 per cent done with that," Woo said this week. "And to be very transparent that not only due to this, but it's also due to COVID."But Woo and B1 Fishing did host tournaments this past summer and he was scheduled to host an event in Fredericton as recently as October. That event was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.Until his recent conviction, Woo had also been partnering with the City of Fredericton on tournaments.The City of Fredericton hosted two B1 Fishing tournaments in 2019. Both took place after the Gananoque tournament, but the city said it worked with the Department of Natural Resources to ensure proper fish handling. "However, we will not be working with Mr. Woo on future tournaments," wrote Bobby Despres, Fredericton sport tourism co-ordinator. "Protecting our natural environment is the city's top concern and we want to work with organizers who are fully committed to this principle." Woo also has a working relationship with the New Brunswick Department of Tourism. The fishing show he hosts, Fish East, is set to premiere this month on the Wild Television Network and the website states: "Woo sets out to explore the East Coast through a nine-episode series filmed exclusively in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia."The government of New Brunswick is listed as a partner with the production. Woo denies hiding fishWoo claimsthe only thing he did wrong was to not immediately contact the Ontario government after more than five per cent of the fish caught died on the first day of the tournament. He said he filed a report with the ministry on the Tuesday following the tournament, then resubmitted a more detailed report the following Friday. He said his only option was to throw the fish in the garbage. "What would be the other option, take them off-site? I'm not sure where we would have put them," said Woo. "Or do we go and announce to everybody 'Hey, we have 200 dead fish here, what do we do?' I'm not sure that would have been the politically correct thing to do. There's no precedent here." "We panicked," Woo wrote on the B1 Fishing Facebook page when explaining why fish were thrown in the garbage. He denies trying to hide them. Woo thinks whatever killed the fish is still uncertain. Water quality blamed "This was an anomaly," said Woo. "It never happened before; it's never happened since."Woo points the finger at the venue, the river water quality, as one of the factors in what happened to the fish."But certainly, there was no negligence on our side of things as far as the procedure or the fish handling is concerned," said Woo. Woo said he takes full responsibility and regrets what happened.
Ottawa's success at reducing its COVID-19 case count — and keeping it relatively low — over the past two months may be unique in the world, say Canadian epidemiologists."I don't know any other city like Ottawa in the world," said Doug Manuel, a physician and senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital."The leader board has changed," said Manuel. "We were [among] the highest in the country not even two months ago, and now we're bucking the trend internationally."But as much as experts say Ottawans should be proud of their accomplishment, they also warn that a slip in following the rules — keeping two metres apart, wearing masks, and especially not socializing outside our own households — could rapidly lay all that hard work to waste.'It's pretty remarkable'In mid-October, Ottawa saw its COVID-19 infection rate reached 132 active cases per 100,000 residents — higher than Toronto's and many other Canadian cities. The people of Ottawa were shocked. There were official warnings, there were public scoldings and there was a four-week partial lockdown. That seemed to work, as Ottawa's COVID-19 daily case count has been generally declining for the past seven weeks.Our infection rate now sits at 29.5 per 100,000 residents, which is still serious enough to keep us in the "orange" or intermediate zone of the province's five-tier system for scoring COVID-19 severity. But our stats keep us well away from the top-level grey zone that Toronto and surrounding municipalities find themselves in.It's not that other cities aren't also seeing their COVID-19 numbers come down, said Manuel, but in other places around the globe, the cases are generally declining from a relatively high level. For example, in London, England, the number of new daily coronavirus cases has fallen by about half over the last four weeks of an economic lockdown in that country, but there are still 154 active cases per 100,000 residents."We kind of woke up and got some messages and got back together when we were about 100 to 150 cases a day," said Manuel. "I don't know anyone who's done that.… It's pretty remarkable." Great public health, white-collar populationColin Furness, an epidemiologist and assistant professor with the faculty of information at the University of Toronto, said Ottawa is "absolutely going in the opposite direction to almost everybody else," especially in the northern hemisphere.He believes Ottawa's success is due largely to the capital's demographics and its public health leadership.The relatively large proportion of government and high-tech jobs in Ottawa means that many more people are able to work from home than in other cities."You've also got a population that is educated and able and compliant and therefore equipped to respond," he said. "And so the outcome was quite positive." Furness also gives kudos to Dr. Vera Etches and the team at Ottawa Public Health for their ability to reach out to the community with the ever-shifting advice on how to keep COVID-19 at bay."You've got excellent public health leadership in Ottawa," Furness said.Etches in particular has a way of connecting with the people of Ottawa. Not many public officials would admit to showing up to work so frazzled that she forgot to put on her skirt."I think this makes a difference — we really need to be able to connect to people," said Dr. Peter Jüni, a professor of epidemiology and medicine at the University of Toronto, and a director of research at St. Michael's Hospital.Jüni is also the scientific director of the province's Science Advisory Table.He agrees that Ottawa is "really unique" in being able to keep COVID-19 cases relatively low, but warns our success will be fleeting if we let our guard down.'Playing with fire'Some in Ottawa may be wondering why, despite our world-beating numbers, we have to follow the same restrictions as cities faring worse, especially during the upcoming holidays.Experts say those feelings are understandable, and even logical. But the COVID-19 situation is precarious — as Manuel put it, like "trying to balance a broom on your finger."Manuel pointed to the fact that the daily numbers, including the virus count in the wastewater — data that Ottawa alone makes public — have been edging up slightly in recent days. If we begin to socialize more, especially indoors, we risk the chance of a few "superspreader events" that will send COVID-19 numbers rocketing skyward."This thing is really contagious, and it is contagious, unlike SARS, when we're not symptomatic, and that makes it very challenging," Jüni said. He likened the spread of COVID-19 to throwing a match into the brush. One time, maybe the second time, nothing happens. But that third match starts a devastating blaze."So now, right now, it's just playing with fire."Furness uses a different metaphor to describe Ottawa's efforts to keep COVID-19 at bay."We're on a parachute and we're descending nice and slowly," he said. "So this is going really, really well. Who among us wants to take the parachute off now?"
An Ottawa cancer patient who spoke out about being "terrified" he would contract COVID-19 in hospital after sharing a room with a positive patient, has now tested positive.Adrian Lloyd, 52, was notified Nov. 26 that one of his roommates at The Ottawa Hospital's General campus contracted the illness. It was the same day Ottawa Public Health declared an outbreak on his ward, 5E.On Wednesday, Lloyd's own fears were realized when he himself tested positive following an earlier negative result."I am afraid and also angry," said Lloyd by phone after learning he has COVID-19."Hospitals are supposed to be a safe place and this is why there's been several times, I've had fevers and things, and haven't come into the hospital."In a statement to CBC News, The Ottawa Hospital said patient safety is a top priority. "When a COVID-19 outbreak occurs in hospital, all appropriate infection prevention and control protocols are diligently followed. This includes strict contact tracing and monitoring of all patients for symptoms," said a spokesperson for the hospital."Any patients who test positive for COVID-19 are immediately placed on a COVID-19 cohort unit. The hospital also has auditing practices in place to ensure that these infection prevention and control protocols are maintained. Staff will continue following these protocols, in order to keep everyone safe."Roommate should have been 'whisked off'Lloyd has Stage 4 pancreatic cancer and was admitted to hospital nearly two weeks ago after he developed a fever while undergoing chemotherapy treatment.During his stay, Lloyd said he shared a room with a man whose bed was less than six feet away from his, coughed continuously at night and was not told to wear a mask. "As soon as he started coughing like that he should have been whisked off to a private room," said Lloyd, who believes he got COVID-19 from the roommate.As of Wednesday, six patients and two staff members have tested positive as part of the ongoing outbreak on ward 5E. One of the patients who tested positive has died, according to Ottawa Public Health.Lloyd, who was supposed to be released from hospital by now, said Thursday must stay in a COVID-19 ward for 20 days while he recovers.So far, his symptoms are mild but he worries they may worsen."At nighttime sometimes, I'll have a bit of a dry cough but I keep telling myself it's because the air here is very dry," he said.
We're serious, Clark: A family in Stittsville is going full Griswold for the holidays, and it's a full-blown, four-alarm celebration of one of the greatest Christmas movies of all time.Fans of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation will immediately recognize the over-the-top decorations made famous by the fictional Griswold family. The holiday classic starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo and Randy Quaid as Cousin Eddie was released 31 years ago.Fast forward to 2020, and the Turcotte family is recreating the movie's look and feel with the help of 2,500 multicoloured lights — the fun, old-fashioned kind."We actually went [for] the old-fashioned glass incandescent lights," said Shawn Turcotte, vice-president of construction for Mattamy Homes. "So it's really lit up the neighborhood." And like the famous scene from the 1989 movie, the electrical load proved too much, at first. "We had a few breakers pop. We had to [move] our extension cords to different outlets in the house to make sure we didn't blow the breaker panel," said Turcotte. The Turcottes are known for going all out with festive lights and decorations, but after last year's display, daughter Kennedy, 13, challenged the family to up their game in 2020. "'Dad, if we do this, we're all in,'" was the pitch, Turcotte told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning. "So we're all in."While they've been planning the caper since last Christmas, the COVID-19 pandemic only made them want to go bigger, for themselves and the whole neighbourhood. That meant doing their research — Turcotte said they watched the movie 10 times in preparation — and finding the perfect prop: the Griswold family station wagon.In the movie, the family heads out to cut down a Christmas tree, but the hapless Clark forgets to bring along a saw. The scene ends with a shot of an enormous tree, complete with root ball, lashed to the top of the wood-panelled wagon. "It's not the exact car from the movie, but it's very close. It's a 1980 Chevrolet Caprice station wagon," said Turcottte, who spent a year searching for just the right ride, and bought it on Kijiji from the original owner in Toronto.Last weekend, the family even drove the car to get their own Christmas tree at a local farm. "We decided to go through the McDonald's drive-thru with the car, and the tree," said Turcotte. "We got a lot of attention." Raising money for food bankThe Turcottes are hoping to tap into the interest in their Griswold-style scene at 18 Cypress Gardens to raise money for the Stittsville Food Bank, which has 1,000 more clients now than this time last year, according to Turcotte. Gawkers will be encouraged to donate directly from their cell phones. "Show up, enjoy the decorations, take some pictures," urged Turcotte. And then consider scanning a QR code that will link to the food bank website. And what's going to happen to the vintage station wagon once Christmas is over?"I've got a 16-year-old son who's very interested in it. His buddies think it's the coolest thing in the world," said Turcotte. "So we may let him cruise around with it after Christmas."
Ontario's annual greenhouse gas emissions rose for the first time in nearly a decade during the first year the Ford government was in power.It's a sign that the province's climate change targets are in jeopardy, according to a new report. The report, to be released Thursday by the group Environmental Defence, calls the increase "a big step backwards" in Ontario's progress toward reducing carbon emissions."Ontario is trending dangerously in the wrong direction on climate change, and the gap between Ontario's carbon reduction targets and actual emissions levels is growing," says the report, a copy of which was provided to CBC News ahead of Thursday's publication. The report — entitled Ontario Climate - Yours to Recover — also says the government has an opportunity to make investments that would both stimulate economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and reduce emissions, yet hasn't made moves to do so. The latest federal figures, which are published with a two-year lag time, show the province's emissions rose by 10 megatonnes (MT) in 2018 over the previous year. This marks Ontario's first annual increase in emissions since 2010, the year the province's economy emerged from the last recession. The increase in emissions in 2018 means the government will have to make even more reductions than previously promised just to hit its own targets, said Sarah Buchanan, clean economy program manager for Environmental Defence. "Yes, it's possible they could still meet their 2030 carbon reduction targets, but it's becoming increasingly distant of a possibility," said Buchanan. "It's something that we don't have the luxury of time to fix."The government remains committed to its emission reduction target for 2030, said a spokesperson for Environment Minister Jeff Yurek. "We have taken some important steps over the past two years to lower greenhouse gas emissions in the province," said Yurek's press secretary Andrew Buttigieg in a statement. The report argues some of the government's most significant steps actually contribute to higher emissions. Shortly after forming government in 2018, Premier Doug Ford scrapped Ontario's cap-and-trade system, cancelled home energy efficiency programs and eliminated incentives to purchase electric vehicles. Yurek's predecessor as environment minister, Rod Phillips, now the finance minister, set new, less-stringent targets for reducing emissions in what the government dubbed the Made-In-Ontario Environment Plan. The plan proposed about 18 MT of reductions in annual greenhouse gas emissions by 2030: * Renewable fuels: 3.5 MT. * Natural gas conservation: 3.2 MT. * Electric vehicles: 2.9 MT. * Industrial emission performance standards: 2.7 MT. * Technological innovations: 2.7 MT. * Federal clean fuel standard: 1.3 MT. * Emission reduction fund: 0.7 MT. * Other policies: 1.1 MT."Our plan is an evolving document, and our estimates will continue to evolve as policies and commitments are reviewed and refined, and as we begin to see results of initiatives already in motion," said Buttigieg. The Environmental Defence report examines how much progress Ontario has made on each of those promised reductions. It builds on work by the province's auditor general last month that concluded the government is at risk of missing its emission targets. A significant portion of the top source of reductions, renewable fuels, would come from boosting the minimum renewable content (such as ethanol) in gasoline to 15 per cent. Last week the government announced a slower timetable for the change than previously planned. Also last week, the government waffled on whether its target for natural gas conservation — its second largest proposed source of emission reductions — is actually a target at all. In a letter to the Ontario Energy Board, Yurek and Bill Walker, the associate minister for energy, said the 3.2 MT figure for reduced emissions is merely "an estimate of the potential for actions related to natural gas conservation" and "is not intended to be a prescriptive target." "There's been no action, not even a hint of action towards implementing and expanding natural gas conservation programs," said Buchanan. When Ontario's emission figures for 2020 are published, they will almost certainly show a drop from 2019 because of the pandemic's impact on commuter habits and industrial output. Environment Defence argues that such a drop would not be evidence that the Ford government is making progress on climate change, nor would it be sustained if the government continues on its current path. The government's plans for economic recovery from COVID-19 don't reflect a climate-friendly approach, says the report. "Ontario's recovery actions announced to date have not incorporated any programs promised in the Environment Plan to reduce GHG emissions, despite many actions with high potential for economic stimulus," the report says."This is a missed opportunity to invest in proven job-creating solutions like public transit, energy efficiency, and green building."Environmental Defence accuses the government of "adopting an outdated view of economic stimulus based on accelerating large infrastructure projects like highways, which will make climate change worse."The organization points to the proposed Highway 413, to run from the northern part of Vaughan through Caledon to where the 401, 403 and 407 intersect. The government in turn points to two recent announcements that auto sector giants will retool their Ontario assembly plants for production of electric vehicles: Ford in Oakville, and Fiat Chrysler in Windsor. "We will continue to look to industry, who we are counting on to do their part to drive innovative solutions that will help us meet our goals for the environment and climate change," said Buttigieg.
A Markham, Ont. man who rented a dozen luxury homes and turned them into rooming houses has been ordered to pay $36,000 in restitution to the landlords within 10 days or he'll be arrested and jailed for four months.The penalty comes after Arif Adnan Syed was found in contempt of court last month for failing to comply with an Ontario Superior Court of Justice order compelling him to turn all of the properties back into single-family residences.In a scathing nine-page decision, Justice Mark Edwards made it clear that he didn't accept Syed's assertion that he was struggling financially or that Syed had tried his best to empty the houses of occupants."The fact that Syed continued to accept rent is a further reflection of his real intentions," Edwards said. "Syed had no intention to restore the residences to their former status as single-family residences until he was staring down the barrel of a contempt motion."In terms of finances, the Superior Court judge said that Syed's own evidence shows he's not struggling. Syed testified that he received an average of $500 a month for each room he rented and so could have been making roughly $40,000 a month across the properties when he had 90 renters.$208K deposited to bank account in 1 monthSyed's bank account statements also show total monthly deposits ranging from roughly $30,000 to $208,000 and total monthly withdrawals as high as $216,000 during the months he was leasing at least some of the luxury homes."What the bank account statements do seem to reveal are substantial cash withdrawals during the currency of Syed's fraud that he has perpetrated on the plaintiffs," Edwards said.WATCH | Landlords who rented their homes inspect the damage:One regular transaction the judge considered notable was a monthly $5,123 lease payment, which Edwards said was "presumably the monthly lease of Syed's Lamborghini sports car.""The fact that Syed is leasing a Lamborghini sports car does not measure up with his assertion that he is 'struggling,'" the judge said.In a phone interview after Wednesday's hearing, Syed told CBC News that he is struggling financially now but wasn't at the time of the bank statements."I respect the court decision, and I have started working on it," he said. "And I will try my best to have the restitution paid out within 10 days."Landlords say homes sustained up to $1M in damage Despite the strong words, the decision by Edwards is all bark and no bite in the eyes of at least one of the landlords.> "We're going to be paid less than [Syed] pays every single month to lease his precious Lamborghini." \- John DaviesJohn Davies said the $36,000 the judge awarded in restitution is "ludicrous" given how little each of the 12 landlords will get to help restore their homes once the funds are split among them. "[The judge] said that he's going to award substantial damages, and we get insulted with a payment of $3,000 a house," Davies said. "We're going to be paid less than [Syed] pays every single month to lease his precious Lamborghini."CBC News previously reported on efforts by Davies and the other landlords to reclaim their luxury homes after Edwards voided their leases in late September. The landlords say the illegal rooming houses have caused up to $1 million in damage across their 12 properties in Richmond Hill, Markham and Thornhill, all in the Greater Toronto Area.The remaining occupants in three of the 12 houses are set to be evicted on Thursday.Syed is also facing 17 fraud-related criminal charges for allegedly using fake identification documents in his applications to rent the houses. None of the charges have been proven in court. Penalty means 'nefarious activities' will continueDavies told CBC News that Syed owes him $40,000 — a year's worth of rent — and estimates that it will cost $70,000 to $80,000 to repair the damage the rooming house caused to his Thornhill home."This is a recipe for the courts encouraging criminals to carry on with their nefarious activities," he said. "Other people are going to say, 'My goodness, I can do that, too. I can start doing that because I can get away with it.'"In his decision Edwards said the restitution money is to give the landlords "a means to clean up and begin the repair of their homes," since it was "impossible" to determine how much damage was done to all of the properties based on the evidence in the contempt hearing.The judge said damage claims will have to be made "as the action proceeds."Along with the $36,000 in restitution, Edwards also ordered Syed to pay $65,000 in legal costs for the proceeding, including an overdue $15,000 payment he had been ordered to make previously.Syed told CBC News he's working on paying the restitution first and will then turn to the legal costs.Davies said he doesn't think that Syed will pay those costs. But even if they are paid, the landlord said it won't cover all of the legal fees he and other landlords have accrued trying to get their houses back."How the hell can somebody get away with this level of fraud, dishonesty and criminal activity — and it's the innocent that have to pay for it?" he said.
Kim Zavesky is desperate to return to her home in Golden, B.C.After retiring last year, she and her husband — both Americans — sold their house in Chandler, Ariz., and moved most of their belongings to their second home in Golden, in southeastern British Columbia.The plan was to rent a place in the United States for the first part of the year and spend the rest of the year in Golden. But then the Canada-U.S. border closed to non-essential traffic in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, blocking the couple from accessing their Canadian property."All my stuff is there, all my documents except for my passport," Zavesky said. "It's like not being able to go home."Adding to her frustration is the fact that, despite the border closure, Canadians can still fly to the U.S for leisure travel. That includes snowbirds who are currently flocking to the Sunbelt states."The unfairness of it really bothers me," Zavesky said. "Whatever the rules are, I just feel like it should be the same."Although Canada and the U.S. agreed to close their shared border to non-essential travel during the pandemic, they each crafted their own policies. That has sparked some confusion and frustration because the rules vary — depending on which border you're crossing.Political scientist Don Abelson said the different rules between the two countries isn't surprising."You're still dealing with two sovereign countries who have jurisdiction over their own border, and they certainly have jurisdiction and responsibility for developing their own policies," said Abelson, a professor at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S. Snowbirds OK to fly southThe Canada-U.S. land border is set to stay closed until Dec. 21, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau implied on Tuesday that the date could be extended."The [COVID-19] situation in the United States continues to be extremely serious," he said on CBC Radio's The Current.Since the start of the border closure, the Canadian government has barred Americans from entering for non-essential travel by all modes of transport.But while the U.S. has barred Canadian travellers from crossing by land, it still allows them to fly into the country. The U.S. has declined to tell CBC News why it made this decision, but in general, its air travel restrictions are less stringent than Canada's.Despite soaring COVID-19 infections in the U.S., a number of Canadians have taken advantage of the flying exemption, including snowbirds who are heading south to escape the Canadian winter."No way in hell we're staying here," said Claudine Durand of Lachine, Que.If the land border is still closed when Durand and her husband head to Florida in late January, they plan to use a new service offered by Transport KMC. The Quebec company flies snowbirds — and transports their vehicles — across the Quebec-New York border."Basically, it solves our problem because we want to take our RV down," Durand said, adding that she plans to take all COVID-19 safety precautions while in Florida.The federal government advises Canadians not to travel abroad for non-essential travel during the pandemic but says it can't prevent people from leaving.Those who do must quarantine for 14 days upon their return to Canada.Family exemptionsCanada and the U.S. also have different rules for family member exemptions.Following protests from families separated by the border shutdown, the Canadian government loosened its travel restrictions in June to allow Americans with certain immediate family in Canada to enter the country for any reason by both land and air.In October, the government further widened the exemptions to include additional family members, as well as couples who've been together for at least a year.Conversely, the U.S. offers no exemptions for Canadians crossing into the country by land to visit family, unless they're tending to a sick relative.U.S. immigration lawyer Len Saunders suggests the U.S. hasn't bothered to loosen the restrictions as the pandemic drags on because separated family members can still fly to the country."There's a huge alternative," said Saunders, who's based in Blaine, Wash. "There's no restrictions on flying."WATCH | Some Canadians decide to spend winter in U.S. amid COVID-19:One affected group that has found no way around the federal government's travel restrictions are Americans who own property in Canada. Some of them argue they, too, should get an exemption to enter the country."I pay [property] taxes. I would more than live by the rules," said Zavesky, who points out she has a place where she can quarantine for 14 days — her home in Golden, B.C.Mark Brosch of Atlanta owns a cottage in Muskoka Lakes, Ont. He said he believes he should be allowed to enter Canada so he can check on a property that has sat vacant for 10 months."I get across the border and I go to my cottage and quarantine for 14 days," he said. "I am less of a risk to the public in Muskoka than the people that travel back and forth from Toronto every weekend."When asked about property owners, the Public Health Agency of Canada told CBC News in an email that U.S. visitors will be allowed to re-enter Canada when it's deemed safe to do so."Travel into Canada for tourism and recreation purposes is currently prohibited, regardless of the ability of the traveller to quarantine for the full 14 days upon arrival," spokesperson Tammy Jarbeau said.
Recent developments:What's the latest?Quebec has cancelled plans to allow some Christmas gatherings in red zones across the province, including Gatineau. Provincial officials say COVID-19 restrictions in those regions make such exceptions unfeasible.WATCH LIVE | Update from Quebec's premier:Federal officials working on Canada's vaccine rollout say Health Canada could approve Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine within 10 days and deliveries could start at the end of December.Ontario's daily COVID-19 update says Ottawa has 41 of the province's 1,824 newly confirmed cases.How many cases are there?As of Thursday, 8,608 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in Ottawa. There are 371 known active cases, 7,859 cases now considered resolved and 378 people who have died of COVID-19.Public health officials have reported more than 14,100 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 12,700 resolved cases.Ninety people have died of COVID-19 elsewhere in eastern Ontario, along with 83 in western Quebec. CBC Ottawa is profiling those who've died of COVID-19. If you'd like to share your loved one's story, please get in touch.What can I do?Both Ontario and Quebec are telling people to limit close contact only to those they live with, or one other home if people live alone, to slow the spread of the coronavirus.Ontario says this will apply through December's holidays, with people who live away from home such as post-secondary students asked to reduce close contacts for 10 to 14 days before going back.Travel from one region to another is discouraged throughout the Outaouais.Ontario says people shouldn't travel to a lower-level region from a higher one and some lower-level health units want residents to stay put to curb the spread.Ottawa is currently in the orange zone of Ontario's five-colour pandemic scale, which allows organized gatherings and restaurants, gyms and theatres to bring people inside.The city's medical officer of health said on CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning Thursday the COVID-19 decline has stabilized and Ottawa won't be moving to yellow on Ontario's pandemic scale next week.WATCH | Ottawa's COVID-19 progress praised:Three other eastern Ontario health units are under yellow zone restrictions: * The Eastern Ontario Health Unit. * Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health. * Hastings Prince Edward Public Health.That means restaurant hours, table limits and rules around capacity fall somewhere between those in place in Ottawa and the rest of eastern Ontario, which is currently green, the lowest level.In Gatineau and the surrounding area, which is one of Quebec's red zones, health officials are asking residents not to leave home unless it's essential.There is no indoor dining at restaurants and gyms, cinemas and performing arts venues are all closed.The rest of western Quebec is orange, which allows private gatherings of up to six people and organized ones up to 25 — more in seated venues.Its rules won't be loosened until mid-January at the earliest.What about schools?There have been about 200 schools in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region with a confirmed case of COVID-19:Few have had outbreaks, which are declared by a health unit in Ontario when there's a reasonable chance someone who has tested positive caught COVID-19 during a school activity.WATCH | Making the grade during a pandemic:Distancing and isolatingThe novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes or speaks onto someone or something. These droplets can hang in the air.People can be contagious without symptoms.This means people should take precautions such as staying home when sick, keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean, socializing outdoors as much as possible and maintaining distance from anyone they don't live with — even with a mask on.Ontario has abandoned its concept of social circles.Masks are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec and should be worn outdoors when people can't distance from others. Three-layer non-medical masks with a filter are recommended.Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who've been ordered to do so by their local public health unit. The duration depends on the circumstances in both Ontario and Quebec.Anyone who has travelled recently outside Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days.Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible. WATCH | A sibling's cancer story during the pandemic:What are the symptoms of COVID-19?COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and the loss of taste or smell. Less common symptoms include chills, headaches and pink eye. Children can develop a rash.If you have severe symptoms, call 911.Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic and resources are available to help.Where to get testedIn eastern Ontario:Anyone seeking a test should book an appointment.Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, or if you've been told to by your health unit or the province.People without symptoms, but who are part of the province's targeted testing strategy, can make an appointment at select pharmacies.Ottawa has nine permanent test sites, with mobile sites wherever demand is particularly high.Local city councillor Mathieu Fleury says Vanier is getting a COVID-19 test site.Kingston's test site is at the Beechgrove Complex. The area's other site is in Napanee.People can arrange a test in Bancroft and Picton by calling the centre or Belleville and Trenton online.The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Alexandria, Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Limoges, Rockland and Winchester. The Limoges site closes Dec. 11 and reopens in Casselman Dec. 14.The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls and a mobile test site visiting smaller communities.Renfrew County residents should call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 for a test or with questions, COVID-19-related or not. Test clinic locations are posted weekly.WATCH | Christmas trees flying off the lots this year:In western Quebec:Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms or who have been in contact with someone with symptoms.Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau seven days a week at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 avenue Buckingham.They can now check the approximate wait time for the Saint-Raymond site.There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Gracefield, Val-des-Monts and Fort-Coulonge.Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby.First Nations, Inuit and Métis:Akwesasne had its most known COVID-19 cases of the pandemic in November. Its council is asking residents to avoid unnecessary travel and its curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. is back.Akwesasne schools and its Tsi Snaihne Child Care Centre are temporarily closed to in-person learning. It has a COVID-19 test site available by appointment only.Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who's been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte had its first confirmed case last month.People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-2259. Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603.Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.For more information