U.S. health officials have allowed emergency use of the first antibody drug to help the immune system fight COVID-19. (Nov. 9)
U.S. health officials have allowed emergency use of the first antibody drug to help the immune system fight COVID-19. (Nov. 9)
The Canadian tradition to give thanks on the second Monday in October isn't the only Thanksgiving some in southwestern Ontario celebrate.This year, like almost every other for the last 73 years, members of the Cottam United Church in Essex County will put together a feast.It's normally a big event, even attended by Americans. This year, the COVID-19 restrictions won't allow for that, but the members of the church aren't ready to let go of the tradition."It's more than just a meal. It has been an event that has brought our community together beyond just even the community of the church. It's generally the community of both people who live in the area and our American cousins," said Rick Mayea, an organizer of the event.Deciding to still host the dinner was the easy part, he said. The challenge was how to do it and keep the community safe. In the past, hundreds dined in the 150-capacity hall from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. with another 400 to 500 takeout orders. Since that large of a group gathering isn't currently allowed, they came up with a simple plan with the help of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit."Just consider it an average Tim Horton's drive-thru," Mayea said. This year each dinner costs $18. They're filled with turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberries, peas, squash, then a choice of pie, either apple, cherry or blueberry.So far about 800 meals have been pre-ordered, but they expect more. Normally the group serves about 1,200 meals. The event only comes together thanks to dedicated volunteers. Only 50 can be inside of the church at one time, but Mayea said they've been able to make it work. "It'll be a little bit different than trying to serve a person a meal," he said. "People will come through and be packing the meals."He says they can produce and pack 100 meals in about 15 minutes and are prepared for a different traffic situation in the parking lot. "We have people out there controlling things," Mayea said. "We do have people greeting cars as they arrive and kind of directing them where to go."This year all the meals must be pre-ordered for pick up by Tuesday night. Church volunteers will start peeling the potatoes to feed an estimated 1,150 starting Wednesday.
In a year when kids have had birthday parties cancelled and activities changed dramatically, a Calgary ER nurse is doing her best to tell them Christmas won't be called off. Lisa Rutherford, a local nurse, wrote and illustrated the book Hector and the Virus Vector, which tells the story of Hector the Elf and his quest to save Christmas during a pandemic. In the book, Rutherford says Santa decides to cancel Christmas because he's trying to find a way to protect the children of the world, but the day is saved by a "science elf" and his experiments."I have a three-year-old daughter and when everything went on isolation lockdown, she was freaking out. She was so upset and everything got cancelled for her," she told The Homestretch."I just kind of was looking ahead and I'm like, 'Come Christmastime, she's not going to understand,' and so that's kind of where I got the idea from."The idea also prompted Rutherford — who has a bachelor of science in molecular biology — to use scientific terms because she thinks it's important to introduce kids to these concepts when they are young."I know (my daughter is) not going to understand what a vector is or what crystallisation is, but being introduced to those terms, I think is important and it makes it a little more interesting for me to read as well," she said.She also used the opportunity to write in people she knows in the book.In one case, Rutherford's postings on social media reached the parents of a four-year-old daughter with a heart defect."The mom was telling me that the daughter is just really concerned that Christmas is going to be cancelled," she said."She just was so excited for the book that I asked for some photos of the daughter and I drew her in the book."Rutherford is on maternity leave so hasn't had to work in the hospital amid the COVID-19 pandemic but feels for the staff involved."I've been kind of like watching my friends talk about it and, you know, the struggles that they've been having and not being able to step in because I have this small child that I have to care for. So it's been tricky."The nurse says she's decided that 50 per cent of the proceeds from the book will be donated to the Alberta Children's Hospital."My son at three months was in hospital for 10 days and it was a pretty rough experience, but they were just so amazing. And so I'm going to be donating some of the proceeds," she said.Hector and the Virus Vector is available at Rainbow Ink Designs, which is offering free shipping in Calgary.With files from The Homestretch.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The federal government says American duties on Canadian softwood lumber exports continue to be "unfair" and "unjustified," even if they have been reduced. An administrative review by the U.S. Department of Commerce imposes countervailing duties of nearly nine per cent on certain Canadian exporters, down from just over 20 per cent. It's the latest salvo in one of the most persistent trade irritants between Canada and the United States, a dispute that has been raging for nearly 40 years. The lower rate appears to be the result of a World Trade Organization decision in August that found Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission were wrong to impose the original duties in 2017. International Trade Minister Mary Ng acknowledged the lower tariffs as a step in the right direction, but insisted they remain baseless and unfair. Ng says the government will continue to seek a negotiated settlement and defend the interests of Canadian forestry companies and workers."While reduction in tariffs for some Canadian producers is a step in the right direction, Canada is disappointed that the United States continues to impose unwarranted and unfair duties on Canadian softwood lumber," she said in a statement Tuesday evening."These duties have caused unjustified harm to Canadian businesses and workers, as well as U.S. consumers."U.S. producers have long taken issue with Canada's system of provincially regulated stumpage fees, which are paid to the Crown in exchange for the right to harvest timber. They say the system unfairly subsidizes an industry which in the U.S. is privately owned and operated, with pricing set by the competitive marketplace.Canadian lumber exports play a critical role in the U.S., where demand for wood products used in construction significantly outstrips the domestic supply.The U.S. Lumber Coalition, a champion of countervailing duties against Canada, noted in a statement that the August decision by the WTO is being appealed — although the U.S. has effectively hamstrung the world body's dispute resolution panel by refusing to appoint new members. "It is absolutely imperative that these flawed WTO recommendations are not allowed to undermine in any way the continued enforcement of the trade laws," executive director Zoltan van Heyningen said in a statement. "The WTO case is far from over, and as such, it must not be allowed to influence the ongoing process and the results of the second administrative review."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.The Canadian Press
In September, as the pandemic summer began to wane, school children across Ontario found themselves back in the classroom for the first time since March. For Jason Bradshaw, a science teacher with the Peel District School Board (PDSB), the occasion meant dusting off and booting up his laptop. He was one of many assigned to teach online, as PDSB staffed an entire digital school operating in parallel to in-person education. It gave students the option to learn from the safety of their homes. The system wasn’t perfect, but was generally considered to be an improvement from what was scraped together in March. Students (and teachers) who wanted to work online had an option, as did those who prefered the classroom. But the compromise wasn’t to last. Since the end of August, the number of COVID-19 cases in Ontario has trended rapidly toward the top of case charts at increasing speed. In Peel Region, and especially in Brampton, the pace has accelerated faster than anywhere else in Ontario and the virus has spread out of control. In mid-October, students were offered a chance to reassess. Would they prefer to learn online or from home? The answer was overwhelming. The proportion of students opting to learn from home was so great that the model of online and in-person schools was no longer viable. Both PDSB and Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board (DPCDSB) switched to a hybrid model for high school students that sees teachers juggling in-class and virtual class at the same time. “The way I describe it: it’s similar to what I was doing when I was teaching online, but with a live studio audience,” Bradshaw told The Pointer. “I still have the computer in front of me, I can see my online students, I can interact with them. But I’m doing this all with some number of in-person students in front of me who I also have to engage and respond to as well.” To try his best to maximize the learning experience for his students, Bradshaw has created a mission control cobbled together from board computers and his own devices. His system involves using a Chromebook to broadcast his lessons to students at home, a personal laptop is at the heart of the operation, a desktop links his online presentation to the class projector and an iPad helps to monitor the online chatbox. “People are right to consider the accessibility for students, they should always be our primary focus … but in doing so, people forget this is not what any teacher has ever really trained for,” he added. “The way the system is working right now is leveraging the fact teachers are going to fill in the gaps and give a little extra to make it work [including providing their own devices]. That’s an expectation I don’t think is really fair for myself or my colleagues.” Bradshaw says the majority of his students are tuning in online. It’s not uncommon, he says, to have five students in front of his desk and a further 25 learning online. At PDSB, 57 percent of elementary school students are learning online and 43 percent in person. At the secondary school level, 45.1 percent are only online, while 54 percent are taking part using an “adaptive” model. It seems the steeply rising COVID-19 case count in schools has convinced many students and families they’re better off learning at home. Data taken from dashboards maintained by the two main school boards at 12 p.m. on November 23 show 40 percent (or 163) schools in Peel had at least one active case of COVID-19. Of that figure, 56 DPCDSB schools were reporting a total of 130 cases, while 196 infections were spread out between 107 PDSB schools. In the face of these figures, and startling rates of community transmission, Peel entered a 28-day lockdown on Monday. Between September and November 15, there were 14 outbreaks of COVID-19 at Peel schools. An outbreak is defined as two or more cases in school where an epidemiological link can be found to suggest transmission took place in the classroom. Five additional outbreaks have been reported since November 15, including the recent brief closure of DPCDSB’s Holy Spirit School. Data from Peel Public Health says 64 percent of elementary staff or students involved in nine outbreaks were asymptomatic. Despite the spread of cases in some schools and lockdown measures, DPCDSB teachers are still required to report to the classroom. Even those teaching courses entirely online are being told to do so from school property. Measures introduced by Peel’s medical officer of health Dr. Lawrence Loh on November 8 told employers to give their staff the option to work from home if possible. While this is difficult for many, those continuing to work in DPCDSB’s entirely online elementary school could possibly have done so. Yet, even in the face of closures, wide infection spread and warnings from Peel’s top public health doctor, DPCDSB has told its staff that to teach online they must be in a classroom. “DPCDSB educators teaching students in remote-only learning mode will continue to do so from DPCDSB schools,” Bruce Campbell, general manager, communications and community relations, told The Pointer on November 10. The statement was reconfirmed on November 23. “As schools remain open and with no direction to close schools and implement 100 percent remote operations such as was the case during the initial closure period, DPCDSB educators will continue to be based in our schools.” Asked for comment, Loh said the final decision lies with the board. “I have instructed owners/operators (in this case, the school board) to permit work from home wherever possible,” he said in an email. “It is up to them to decide what is possible.” As Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce repeat that “the safest place for kids is in the schools, not in the community,” it is teachers who are stretched to keep students there. Not only are some now teaching from empty classrooms instead of their homes, others are learning to juggle two jobs at once to offer the best option to students. “I don’t want to be too blunt, but I don’t think it’s a model that is giving either group of students the best possible experience,” Bradshaw added. “Your attention is being split; teaching online and teaching in person are two very different things… it almost feels like you’re doing the job of two teachers at the same time.” 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
The RCMP sergeant who headed the foreign and domestic liaison unit responsible for Meng Wanzhou's arrest says she saw no problem with Canada Border Services Agency officers questioning the Huawei executive before she was taken into police custody.Sgt. Janice Vander Graaf testified in B.C. Supreme Court Tuesday that the original plan she discussed with her supervisor would have seen RCMP officers board Meng's plane on arrival from Hong Kong in order to execute a provisional arrest warrant.But by the time she arrived at the airport on Dec. 1, 2018, Vander Graaf said her officers had agreed instead that the CBSA would intercept Meng once she got off the plane and then take her to a secondary examination area to begin an immigration admissibility examination."This seemed like a reasonable course of action and it seemed like a safe course of action," Vander Graaf said."[The CBSA] had to do what they had to do, and I didn't have any input on what they were planning on doing or what they needed to do for their job or their responsibility. So I had really no sense of the timeline of how long they would take."Fraud and conspiracy chargesVander Graaf was testifying at a hearing to gather evidence in advance of extradition proceedings next year. Defence lawyers plan to argue that the delay in the arrest amounts to a violation of Meng's rights because CBSA officers questioned her about her business without a lawyer, seized her electronic devices and asked her for the passcodes, which they later gave police in error.Meng faces fraud and conspiracy charges in New York in relation to allegations that she lied to an HSBC executive about Huawei's control of a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. economic sanctions against Iran.Prosecutors claim that by relying on Meng's alleged lies to continue financing Huawei, HSBC was placed at risk of loss and prosecution.Vander Graaf is the third RCMP officer to testify so far.She took the stand after two days of testimony from Const. Gurvinder Dhaliwal, one of the two officers who was tasked with executing a provisional warrant for Meng's arrest.Conflicting evidenceDhaliwal was the exhibits officer responsible for making sure that Meng's phones and laptops were kept secure. He and Vander Graaf are at the centre of conflicting evidence relating to defence allegations that RCMP improperly shared technical information about the electronic devices with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.In testimony, Dhaliwal claimed he took pictures of the serial numbers, make and model of the devices and then sent them to the RCMP's file coordinator and a supervisor, Staff. Sgt. Ben Chang.Vander Graaf's contemporaneous notes later record Dhaliwal telling her that Chang provided the serial numbers to the FBI. But Dhaliwal told a defence lawyer Tuesday that he had no recollection of Chang telling him he had sent the information — or of telling Vander Graaf it had happened.Meng's lawyer, Scott Fenton, suggested that Dhaliwal did recall the conversation. But Dhaliwal said he was "positively sure" he didn't speak to Chang.Chang has retained a lawyer and is refusing to testify, according to the defence.'These things are fluid'By the close of proceedings on Tuesday, Crown prosecutor John Gibb-Carsley had not yet reached the topic of the discrepancy between Vander Graaf's notes and Dhaliwal's memory.He dwelt instead on the circumstances surrounding Meng's arrest. From the outset, Vander Graaf seemed to echo previous testimony in which RCMP officers have stated they were mainly concerned about safety considerations and ensuring CBSA officers were able to carry out their duties in an area that was under their jurisdiction.The day before the arrest, she says she spoke with her supervisor, acting Insp. Peter Lea, who favoured boarding the plane directly in order to arrest Meng the moment her flight landed.Vander Graaf said she didn't think it was the kind of emergency situation that would necessitate officers making the arrest on the plane.She characterized Lea's idea as a "strong" suggestion."These things are fluid and other information arises," she said. "So I would suggest a course of action, but if there was a reason to change that then that would be fine."In his testimony, Dhaliwal said he didn't see why Meng couldn't have been arrested as she walked off the plane, leaving the CBSA to conduct their examination after she had been cautioned of her rights. The defence has repeatedly suggested that Canadian authorities deliberately delayed the execution of the warrant —which called for Meng to be arrested "immediately" — so the CBSA could gather information illegally for the FBI.Meng's legal team will have a chance to make those arguments at a hearing on abuse of process sometime next spring.Those proceedings were originally scheduled for February, but on Tuesday, the Crown said they anticipated a delay which might involve the calling of even more witnesses to respond to the evidence currently being heard.Meng has denied the allegations against her.
Independent businesses in Sun Peaks are bracing for the prospect of a potentially devastating Christmas season, as rapidly changing orders around inter- and intra-provincial travel hold the potential of cutting off visitation from the Lower Mainland, as well as Alberta. Earlier this week, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced recommendations against non-essential and recreational travel throughout the province, in addition to an already standing order against travel to or from the Fraser Valley Health (FVH) or Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) regions. Matthias Schmid, owner of McSporties rental and retail, said the prospect of the Lower Mainland and other regions being cut off for the long-term would have a significant impact on local businesses, many of which reported a strong summer season fuelled by domestic travellers after having had to shutter their businesses in March. “During the summer months Sun Peaks saw a ton of traffic front the Lower Mainland. They were coming to do the VRBOs, they were renting bikes and hiking,” said Schmid. “The Lower Mainland really fed Sun Peaks this summer, so I would say that’s a major artery for us that’s cut off.” During a Wednesday press conference, B.C. Premier John Horgan indicated that British Columians can expect more orders from Henry today. Horgan also called for the federal government to implement restrictions on non-essential travel between the provinces. The conference came on a day that B.C. saw a record high of new COVID-19 cases, with 762 cases announced. Horgan also said the two week order against travel outside of the VCH and FVH regions will be extended for an additional two weeks or more. The original two week order, which covered from Nov. 7 to Nov. 23, stated that travel outside of the region should be limited to essential travel only. British Columbia’s tourism agency, Destination BC, has also invested significant amounts of money promoting domestic tourism within the province. Schmid said the rapidly changing situation has caused significant challenges from a planning perspective, as clients from around B.C. and other provinces face uncertainty about whether or not they will be able to come to the resort. “It’s really hard,” he said. “That’s probably the most challenging thing I’d say, it’s the lack of sort of being able to plan.”Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA)broke down where people contracted COVID-19 last week in an update posted online Tuesday. “Saskatchewan has high rates of community transmission. Case counts, active outbreak investigations, hospitalizations and deaths continue to increase,” the media release said. As of Nov. 18, the COVID-19 case was 104 cases per 100,000 people, which was an increase from 78 the previous. As of that report Saskatchewan still had the fourth highest case rate in the country behind Manitoba, Alberta and Quebec. Some areas of Canada have higher case rates than areas of the United States. That’s different from the active case count average, which was over 200 as of Tuesday. According to the federal government, the updated active case count per 100,000 population for Saskatchewan is 244 as of Tuesday. The daily test positivity rate was 6.7 per cent, up from 5.9 per cent last week. The test positivity rate is highest in adults age 20 to 39 and lowest in children under 10-years-old. The most likely acquisition source continues to be households and close contacts. The top source for persons who acquire COVID-19 in the community is recreation/recreational facilities such as ice rinks, bingo halls, bowling alleys and casinos with 25 per cent. Gatherings such as weddings, funerals and house parties are second with 17 per cent. Group homes, shelters and outreach programs were third with 14 per cent. Tied for fourth are educational facilities and food service establishments with eight per cent. In educational facilities cases are more likely teachers or staff and test positivity rates for students are higher in the 14-year-old to 19-year-old age range for students. In food service establishments cases are more likely among co-workers. Long term care, retirement and personal care homes are fifth with seven per cent. Fitness centers and transportation and trades (taxi drivers, meat packing facilities) are tied for sixth with six per cent. Nightclubs are seventh with five per cent. Places of worship are eighth with two per cent. The common risk factors in all of these is shared indoor airspace without masking, physical distancing and frequent hand hygiene, the province said. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
OTTAWA — The top federal public servant says only a small fraction of the 5,000-plus pages of documents the government has released on the WE Charity affair were blacked out.Privy Council clerk Ian Shugart told the House of Commons finance committee Tuesday that only about one per cent of the documents were redacted to protect cabinet confidences.Less than 2.5 per cent were redacted to black out information on other matters that were not relevant to the committee's investigation into the WE affair, he added.But opposition members of the committee said Shugart's estimates don't jibe with the documents released to them, which New Democrat MP Peter Julian estimated contained some 1,500 pages that were partially or fully blacked out.The clerk acknowledged there may have been other reasons for redactions, including solicitor-client privilege and protection of personal privacy. But he pointed out that he was asked to testify at committee Tuesday specifically on cabinet confidences.Shugart's testimony follows weeks of filibustering by Liberal members of the committee over opposition attempts to denounce the government's handling of the WE documents.The opposition-dominated committee had demanded that the documents be handed over without redactions to the parliamentary law clerk, who would determine what, if anything, needed to be blacked out. Instead, the documents were redacted before being given to the law clerk.Shugart told the committee Tuesday that cabinet confidentiality is a crucial constitutional convention that frees ministers to have full and frank discussions in cabinet while maintaining cabinet solidarity once decisions are made.Notwithstanding the long history of keeping cabinet confidences secret, Shugart said he directed public servants to make an exception in the case of the WE affair.He directed them to be "as transparent as possible" about releasing documents involving the student services grant program at the heart of the affair. And he told them to release documents that touched on matters about which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or his ministers had already spoken publicly."As a result ... considerable information on the grant that would otherwise have constituted cabinet confidences was provided to the committee," he said.Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre noted that Shugart can be fired by the prime minister and suggested that he and other public servants used "the pretext" of cabinet confidentiality to protect the Liberal government from political embarrassment.But Shugart said he's "completely confident" that public servants carried out his directions fully and in a non-partisan manner. He said he informed Trudeau of the approach he was taking but did not consult him or ministers on specific decisions made about what should be released or blacked out.Shugart made no apologies for ignoring the committee's order that unredacted documents be sent to the law clerk. He argued that the executive branch of government has no authority to delegate its responsibility to protect cabinet confidences to the parliamentary law clerk.The federal ethics commissioner, meanwhile, told the committee that his office has received "tens of thousands" of pages of documents on the WE affair, none of which were redacted to black out cabinet confidences.Mario Dion is investigating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former finance minister Bill Morneau for possible violations of the Conflict of Interest Act.Both Trudeau and Morneau have close family ties to WE Charity but neither recused themselves from a cabinet decision to pay the charity $43.5 million to administer the now-cancelled student services grant program."We did receive all the documents we need in order to conduct these two examinations, including cabinet confidences," Dion told the committee.Poilievre found it "very strange" that Dion's office received more documents than the finance committee. But Dion suggested that's because his office asked for more documents than the committee did.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24. 2020. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern):7:38 p.m.British Columbia is reporting 941 new cases of COVID-19 today, along with 10 deaths.Health officials say there are 7,732 active cases along with 248 hospitalizations.Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix are reiterating their plea for residents to avoid social gatherings.The province is also asking indoor physical activity sites, such as yoga studios and gymnastics centres, to suspend operations as health officials work to establish new guidelines.\---7:37 p.m.Alberta is bringing in tougher COVID-19 restrictions that include limits on social gatherings and less face-to-face class time for students.Premier Jason Kenney says there are to be no indoor gatherings, but people who live alone can have up to two personal contacts.He says students in Grades 7 through 12 will transition next week to at-home learning and the school holiday break will be extended from Dec. 18 to Jan. 11.Banquet halls, conference centres and concert venues must also close.Kenney adds that anyone who can work from home should do so and masks will be mandatory in workplaces in Edmonton, Calgary and surrounding areas.The measures will be in effect for three weeks and re-evaluated after that.The province reported 1,115 new cases on Tuesday and 16 more deaths.\---3:10 p.m.New Brunswick has revised the number of new COVID-19 cases it is reporting today.It now says it has five new cases, three in the Saint John region and two in the Moncton region.\---3 p.m.Saskatchewan is reporting 175 new cases of COVID-19 for a seven-day average of 209.Health officials say 105 people are in hospital, with 20 receiving intensive care.Opposition leader Ryan Meili says because of the rising spread of the virus, Premier Scott Moe should convene a task force to develop a more co-ordinated approach to handling the pandemic.Moe had been scheduled to provide an update Tuesday afternoon, but it was postponed until Wednesday.His office says further public health measures are being developed which will be announced tomorrow.\---2:20 p.m.Nova Scotia is reporting 37 new cases of COVID-19 today, for a total of 87 active access across the province.Premier Stephen McNeil said during an update the majority of cases were identified in the Greater Halifax Area.The province is also announcing new restrictions in the Halifax Regional Municipality starting this Thursday at midnight.The new restrictions include the closure of in-person dining for restaurants in the HRM as well as the closure of public libraries, museums and First Nation gaming establishments.\---1:42 p.m.Manitoba health officials have announced 471 new COVID-19 cases and 12 additional deaths. Chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin says the health-care system is near its capacity and the numbers must come down. He is urging people to stay home as much as possible.\---1:40 p.m.New Brunswick is reporting five new cases of COVID-19, most involving people under 30.Three of the new cases are in the Saint John region, including two people under 20 and one person in their 30s.The other two cases are in the Moncton region and both are people in their 20s.New Brunswick now has 93 active infections, with 450 cases confirmed since the onset of the pandemic.\---1:10 p.m.Federal Procurement Minister Anita Anand says Canada is working on an "end-to-end" chain for handling new COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they're delivered to Canada.That includes buying 126 freezers, including 26 ultra-cold ones, to hold millions of doses of vaccines that need to be kept at extraordinarily low temperatures.The government is also seeking private bidders to run the logistics, and determining whether the military has a role to play.Anand says storing and transporting vaccines safely is a top priority, especially when they have short shelf lives.Government officials say manufacturers of promising vaccine candidates are emphatic that their products not go to waste, which also means deliveries won't start until Health Canada has approved them for use.\---1 p.m.Yukon is imposing a mandatory mask order, effective Dec. 1, as it tries to control the spread of COVID-19.Premier Sandy Silver says the order will cover everyone using public indoor spaces, although children younger than two and people with certain medical conditions will be exempt.The territory has had no new cases of the virus since announcing Monday that it had reached 38 total cases, with 14 considered active.The territory's chief medical health officer has told residents to prepare to see more cases in the coming weeks, although he says there is no plan for any sort of lockdown restricting movement within Yukon.\---12:45 p.m.Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting two new cases of COVID-19.One is a woman in her 60s in the eastern region who is a close contact of a previously known case.The other is a woman over 70, also in the eastern region, who is connected to a cluster of cases in the town of Grand Bank on the Burin Peninsula.Health officials are also warning rotational workers of an outbreak at the LNG Canada project site in Kitimat, B.C.Newfoundland and Labrador has 24 active cases of COVID-19, with 323 cases confirmed since the onset of the pandemic.\---12:35 p.m.Dr. Theresa Tam says wrestling COVID-19 back under control depends heavily on individual Canadians restricting their activities.Canada's chief public health officer says the country is facing outbreaks in places that didn't have them during the first wave of the pandemic in the spring.And after the current second wave hit younger adults first, more and more cases are being reported in older, more vulnerable people.The Public Health Agency of Canada says on an average day in the past week, more than 2,000 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 and 70 people died.Tam says we know more now about the virus that causes the illness, and especially how it spreads, but Canadians have to put that knowledge to use by running only essential errands and restricting their social interactions to their own households.\---11:55 a.m.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is acknowledging countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany could have some of their citizens vaccinated against COVID-19 before Canadians can get their own shots.He says that's because those countries have their own vaccine-production facilities and Canada doesn't.Rebuilding that capacity will take years, but Trudeau says the federal government has started the work.He says having pre-bought an array of vaccine candidates from foreign manufacturers will help get Canadians effective doses as soon as possible.But he adds it's premature to start circling dates on calendars for when the first doses will arrive.\---11:45 a.m.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government has bought 26,000 doses of a treatment for COVID-19 from pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly.At a news conference in Ottawa, Trudeau didn't name the drug but said it had been co-developed with Vancouver's AbCellera Biologics.The two companies announced last March they were co-operating on developing a treatment using antibodies from a patient who had already had the illness.Trudeau says the government has an option to buy thousands more doses.He says vaccines against COVID-19 are on the way but until they're widely available, Canadians need to do everything they can to avoid catching the novel coronavirus.\---11:40 a.m.The Manitoba government says it has issued one ticket and more are expected in connection with a church service on Sunday for allegedly violating the province's ban on public gatherings.The RCMP say they attended the church, in a rural area near Steinbach, and found more than 100 people inside.The government also says 16 tickets have been issued to people who attended an anti-mask rally in Steinbach earlier this month, and more are expected.\---11:15 a.m.The Ontario government is reporting 1,009 new cases of COVID-19 today but a technical issue means the figure is an underestimate. Health Minister Christine Elliott says the issue also means Monday's case numbers were an overestimate. Today's figures include 497 new cases in Toronto, 175 in Peel Region and 118 in York Region. The province also reported 14 new deaths related to the virus.\---11:10 a.m.Quebec is reporting 45 more deaths attributed to COVID-19 and 1,124 new infections.Health officials said today nine of the 45 deaths occurred in the past 24 hours.Hospitalizations jumped by 21, to 655, and 96 people were in intensive care, a drop of two.The province has reported a total of 134,330 cases and 6,887 deaths since the pandemic began.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.The Canadian PressNote to readers: This is a corrected story. In previous versions, it was reported that hospitalizations in Quebec increased to 665 and that New Brunswick had six new COVID-19 cases.
VICTORIA — A special prosecutor in British Columbia has declined to approve any further charges against people associated with the community of Bountiful where a fundamentalist Christian sect practises polygamy.The B.C. Prosecution Service said in a statement Tuesday that the decision from special prosecutor Peter Wilson brings the matter to a close after years of investigations and charge assessments.Wilson's mandate included considering the possible prosecution of people accused of sexual exploitation and other alleged offences against minors, as well as polygamy-related offences, the prosecution service said. In assessing charges, Wilson said he considered relevant case law and followed the test set out by the prosecution service, which states Crown counsel must measure all the available evidence against two factors: whether there is a substantial likelihood of conviction and, if so, whether the public interest requires prosecution.The exploitation charges recommended by investigators were, with one exception, the same as those submitted to his predecessor Richard Peck in 2006, Wilson said in a statement."In addition, the complainant statements relied upon were, for the most part, taken during a 2005 RCMP investigation and are, therefore, exactly the same statements considered by Mr. Peck."Wilson was appointed as a special prosecutor in 2012 after Peck decided not to continue his mandate.There was some new evidence relating to allegations of sexual exploitation involving one person, which Wilson said he considered but ultimately found many of the same problems that previous prosecutors had identified with the proposed charges."A significant problem common to all of the proposed sexual exploitation counts is that they would have to be prosecuted with unco-operative witnesses," he said.The complainants, according to their statements and police reports, "seem content with their situation as plural wives," he said, adding the result is a case that would "turn entirely on circumstantial evidence."Wilson said the proposed charges also didn't meet the public interest test."In many instances, the alleged sexual exploitation occurred years if not decades ago. A prosecution would likely cause significant emotional distress to complainants who have emphatically rejected any notion that they are now or were ever victims."James Oler and Winston Blackmore, two rival leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, were convicted in a B.C. court of practising polygamy in 2018 and sentenced to house arrest and probation.Oler was also convicted and sentenced to 12 months in jail last year for taking a 15-year-old girl into the United States to be married.Two other members of the Bountiful community have been convicted for removing a 13-year-old girl across the border.In his statement, Wilson said investigators recommended the prosecution of three suspects and submitted new information earlier this year in relation to the alleged removal of two other children who subsequently married members of the same sect in the United States. In each case, Wilson said, there was no substantial likelihood of conviction, so he declined to approve the charges.Insp. Brent Novakoski, the senior investigating officer for the RCMP’s southeast district in B.C., said the announcement "concludes a lengthy, extensive and complex investigation that has spanned two decades, two countries and involved a number of legal firsts."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.The Canadian Press
“Together, these public servants will restore America globally, its global leadership and its moral leadership,” US President-elect Biden said.View on euronews
NEW YORK — Beyoncé is bringing her Black parade to the Grammys: The pop star’s anthem about Black pride scored multiple nominations Tuesday, making her the leading contender with nine.Beyoncé picked up song and record of the year bids with “Black Parade,” which she released on Juneteenth, the holiday that commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free. The song, which reached the Top 40 on the pop charts, is also nominated for best R&B song and best R&B performance.Beyoncé’s “Black Is King” film that highlighted Black art, music, history and fashion is up for best music film while “Brown Skin Girl,” a song dedicated to dark- and brown-skinned women, is nominated for best music video. The singer also earned three nominations for her slick guest appearance on Megan Thee Stallion’s No. 1 hit “Savage,” including record of the year, best rap performance and best rap song.A winner of 24 Grammys, Beyoncé becomes the second-most nominated act in the history of the awards show with 79 nominations. She is tied with Paul McCartney, who earned a nomination this year for best boxed or special limited edition package.Beyoncé is only behind her husband Jay-Z and Quincy Jones, who have both earned 80 nominations each. Jay-Z picked up three nominations this year for his contributions to Beyoncé’s songs: He co-wrote “Black Parade” and “Savage,” thus earning nominations for song of the year, best R&B song and best rap song. Jay-Z has won 22 Grammys throughout his career.Beyoncé’s domination this year came as a surprise since the singer did not release a new album. Other surprises, well snubs, include pop star the Weeknd being completely shut out and earning zero nominations despite having a No. 1 album, multiple hit singles and winning the coveted Super Bowl halftime performance slot. Luke Combs, who dominated the country charts and set records on streaming services this year, was also surprisingly shut out of nominations.When Harvey Mason Jr., the Recording’s interim president and CEO, was asked if he was surprised the Weeknd didn’t earn a single nomination, he told The Associated Press: “You know, there’s so many nominations and there’s only so many slots, it’s really tough to predict what the voters are going to vote for in any given year. I try not to be too surprised.”The Weeknd tweeted later Tuesday an angry response to his snub: “The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency...” He did not elaborate further.Instead, multiple nominations went to Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa and Roddy Ricch, who each earned six nominations and followed Beyoncé as the second-most nominated acts.Lipa, who won two Grammys last year, earned bids for album of the year with “Future Nostalgia” as well as song and record of the year for her hit “Don’t Start Now.” Swift, whose last two albums didn’t garner nominations for album of the year, is competing for the top prize with her surprise album “folklore.” If she wins, she would become the first female artist to win album of the year three times.Other album of the year nominees include: Post Malone’s multi-hit “Hollywood’s Bleeding”; Coldplay’s “Everyday Life,” which featured world music sounds and politically-charged lyrics; HAIM’s sophomore release “Women In Music Pt. III”; Jhené Aiko’s atmospheric R&B project “Chilombo”; English musician Jacob Collier’s multi-genre release “Djesse Vol. 3”; and the deluxe edition of Black Pumas’ self-titled debut album.Tracks competing with Beyoncé’s “Black Parade” and “Savage” for record of the year include DaBaby and Ricch’s “Rockstar,” Malone’s “Circles,” Lipa’s “Don’t Start Now,” Billie Eilish’s “Everything I Wanted,” Black Pumas’ “Colours” and Doja Cat’s “Say So.” The latter track was produced by controversial music figure Dr. Luke, and he earns his first Grammy nominations since 2014, the year his former collaborator Kesha accused him of sexual assault. Dr. Luke, who used the moniker Tyson Trax on the credits for Doja Cat’s song, has vigorously denied the allegations.“Black Parade,” “Don’t Start Now,” “Everything I Wanted” and “Circles” are also nominated for song of the year — a songwriter’s award — along with Swift’s “cardigan,” Ricch’s “The Box,” JP Saxe and Julia Michaels’ “If the World Was Ending” and H.E.R.’s “I Can’t Breathe,” her protest anthem addressing police brutality.Several songs that emerged following the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor were nominated for Grammys, including Lil Baby’s “The Bigger Picture” (best rap song, best rap performance), Anderson .Paak’s “Lockdown” (best melodic rap performance, best music video), Mickey Guyton’s “Black Like Me” (best country solo performance) as well as Beyoncé’s “Black Parade.”“I think it’s meaningful. I think it’s reflective of what’s gone on in our world,” Mason Jr. said of multiple protest songs earning nominations this year. “Musicians and artists and writers and producers, they write about what’s going on in their lives. We tend to be fairly emotional people. When there’s things happening, it’s going to come out in our music and our art. It only makes sense that those types of songs would be nominated and celebrated by our voters. It really resonated with people. You listen to some of those songs and can’t help but be moved.”Megan Thee Stallion, who released her highly anticipated debut album last week after finding success with hit singles and mixtapes since 2018, scored four nominations including best new artist. She will compete with rapper-singer Doja Cat, pop singer Noah Cyrus, country singer Ingrid Andress, multi-genre DJ-producer Kaytranada, rappers Chika and D Smoke, and indie rocker Phoebe Bridgers, who earned four nominations and helped female acts dominate in the rock categories.Nominees for best rock performance and best rock song include Bridgers, Fiona Apple, HAIM, Grace Potter, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes and Big Thief, led by Adrianne Lenker. Female performers also dominated in best country album, including Andress, Miranda Lambert, Brandy Clark and Ashley McBryde. The foursome Little Big Town, which features two female vocalists, round out the five nominees.Howard, who released her first solo album “Jaime” last year, earned five nominations, including bids in R&B and American Roots categories. Eilish, DaBaby, John Beasley, David Frost and Justin Bieber — nominated for three pop awards and a country one for “10,000 Hours” with duo Dan + Shay — earned four nominations each.K-pop kings BTS earned their first-ever Grammy nomination after years of having success on the pop charts. They will compete for best pop duo/group performance with their No. 1 hit, “Dynamite.”Other first-time nominees include the Strokes, Megan Thee Stallion, Michael Kiwanuka, Jay Electronica and Harry Styles, who became the first One Direction member to earn a Grammy nomination. He’s up for best pop vocal album with his second solo release “Fine Line,” best pop solo performance for “Watermelon Sugar” and best music video for “Adore You.”Several acts earned posthumous nominations, including John Prine (best American Roots performance, best American Roots song), Nipsey Hussle (best rap performance), Leonard Cohen (best folk album) Pop Smoke (best rap performance) and songwriter LaShawn Daniels (best gospel performance/song).And A-list entertainers hoping to reach EGOT status are getting a chance to earn their Grammy Award, including Renée Zellweger, who is nominated for best traditional pop vocal album for “Judy” — a performance that won her a second Academy Award — while Meryl Streep is nominated for best spoken word album for “Charlotte’s Web.” Streep’s competition includes MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, journalist Ronan Farrow and “Jeopardy!” record-holder Ken Jennings, who is nominated for reading “Alex Trebek — The Answer Is...” Tiffany Haddish, Jerry Seinfeld, Patton Oswalt, Jim Gaffigan and Bill Burr are nominated for best comedy album.Kanye West, who has won 21 Grammys, only scored a single nomination this year — for contemporary Christian music album for “Jesus Is King.” Others who were snubbed include country performers the Chicks and Morgan Wallen, R&B singers Summer Walker, Teyana Taylor, Chris Brown and Brandy, and late rapper Juice WRLD.Songs and albums released between Sept. 1, 2019 and Aug. 31, 2020 were eligible for nominations this year. Winners will be announced at the live show on Jan. 31.Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press
The Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA) is once again among the sector’s highest environmental performers, significantly exceeding jurisdictional regulations in North America established by the Green Marine environmental certification program. The port’s performance report reached the highest mark available (5) in environmental criteria related to community impacts, spill prevention, aquatic invasive species, waste management and environmental leadership. It achieved above-average results for greenhouse gas emissions (4) and underwater noise (3). PRPA’s average score was 4.5/5, compared to the North American average of 2.8/5. All of the port’s main clients also performed above average: DP World Prince Rupert achieved 4.2; Ridley Terminals 4.6; and AltaGas 3.0. “The Prince Rupert Port Authority takes immense pride in demonstrating our commitment to environmental stewardship by going above and beyond our regulatory obligations to ensure our operations and practices are sustainable in the decades to come,” Shaun Stevenson, PRPA president and CEO said in a statement. “We are grateful for the guidance and inspiration Green Marine has provided to our Port over the past ten years as we work together to mitigate the impacts of shipping on our environment.” The Green Marine certification program encourages participants to reduce their environmental foot print with concrete actions. The program uses targeted performance indicators for what’s touted as a rigorous, transparent and inclusive way to address key environmental issues. The results are verified and published every two years by third-party auditors. Green Marine’s executive director, David Bolduc, said PRPA was a catalyst for expanding the program outside of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region. “It led to many participants joining from all coasts – Pacific North West, Gulf Coast, Atlantic – and this more diversified membership strengthened and added value to the program,” Bolduc said. Full results can be found here on Green Marine’s website. Quinn Bender, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View
As part of IndigiNews’ ongoing look into Indigenous reproductive healthcare access, we are speaking to people about their birth experiences. As the snow started to fall, marking the beginning of the winter solstice, Estella Carmona was on her way to the hospital to give birth to her first daughter, Katiyana. The all-encompassing birthing process would turn into a life-changing spiritual experience that showed Carmona her “true connection to spirit,” she says. Carmona sees her daughter Katiyana, who’s turning seven on Dec. 21, as her greatest teacher. “I knew that I was bringing in sacred life,” says Carmona who is of Sechelt, Stó:lō and Mexican descent, reflecting on the day her daughter was born. Carmona is a member of shíshálh First Nation, which is located along the Sunshine Coast in Sechelt, B.C., and comes from a strong line of matriarchs. She says it’s the strong cultural teachings from the smokehouse that pulled her through two complicated birth experiences. “It showed the strength of spirit,” she says. “I was raised by my great-grandmother, my grandmother and my mom, and [strong moral teachings are] something that we live, we breathe.” She credits her great-grandmother who was a fluent speaker in her language for instilling these teachings in the family. Carmona was living in Stó:lō Territory in 2013 when she was pregnant with her first daughter. Before Katiyana was born owls and hawks started visiting her, she explains. For many Indigenous people, the connection between birds as a kind of messenger is a part of cultural teachings passed down. “An owl started visiting me throughout my pregnancy. They’ve never come into my life beforehand,” says Carmona. “I had four owls visit me and two owls came the night before she was born.” During the delivery, Carmona explains how her cultural teachings helped assist in the birth. “I did tap into sacred energy, our breath, and prayer,” she says. Carmona used a birthing tub at the hospital during her labour. “Having been surrounded by water, she came into this world in a very peaceful way,” she says. However, after her daughter was delivered Carmona says she lost a lot of blood but was not given a blood transfusion. She left the experience wishing she had known her rights. “If I knew my rights, I would have demanded a blood transfusion,” she says. “They took my blood count after she was delivered. They took my blood count the next morning. And they’re like, well, it’s already increasing. So we don’t think you need one.” After suffering from extreme fatigue for six months, navigating being a new mother, working, and being in school, she didn’t realize the severity of the situation until years later. After requesting to see her medical records she says, “I realized this is how women die in childbirth.” Carmona believes a higher power is what pulled her through this experience. “When I say spirit saved my life, I believe that Katiyana chose me as her mother. She chose her father. And those owls visited me throughout,” she says, “it was spirit all the way.” As they left the hospital, she remembers seeing a hawk on the side of the road. “Her spirit is the owl spirit,” Carmona says smiling. “There’s no question about it, she sees truth.” In 2015, Carmona was pregnant with her second child, a daughter named Ivy. Still living in Stó:lō Territory, she returned to give birth at a local hospital. This time, she says, the delivery was excruciating and there were complications with baby Ivy being delivered. According to her medical records, baby Ivy was born face up, blue and limp with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. While Carmona says her mother and mother-in-law knew what was happening, she was unaware of the severity of the situation. “I did not know the severity of the situation being like you just delivered a baby,” she says. The medical records show that baby Ivy was not breathing when she was born, and Carmona says they called a “code pink” signalling an emergency. “She’s a miracle that she survived,” says Carmona. “My belief in the Creator, my belief in the teaching saved us a hundred percent. We had people watching over us.” Reflecting on the experience, Carmona once again wishes she was given more information in the moment. “There was no, how long was she out of breath for, what’s her cognitive ability kind of thing. Like, your daughter could have died,” she says. “It was, she can sit up in her car seat. You’re fine, go home.” For other expecting parents Carmona says that due to the lack of cultural safety, systemic racism and stereotyping of Indigenous women, it’s important to “trust your intuition.” “Whether it’s the doctor, a white midwife, the stereotyping that you receive, whether it’s in the doctor’s appointments, leading up or in the delivering room, having multiple Indigenous family members there, there’s a lot of racism that happens in these experiences,” she says. Many Indigenous Peoples who access the healthcare system in Canada feel the impacts of systemic racism. On June 19, 2020, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond was appointed by Health Minister Adrian Dix to lead an investigation into Indigenous-specific racism in the B.C. health care system. “If I could say anything to a woman who would be giving birth or in this process, trust your intuition, pray for protection and guidance,” says Carmona. With two healthy young girls, now one of the most important things for Carmona is that her kids are raised traditionally so that they too are equipped to navigate the world. “I can say that practicing our cultural teachings benefits new mothers and their babies, that little plant, that little seed,” says Carmona, “Every thought, every feeling that we think our baby experiences and my daughters are very cultural beings.” Our series on reproductive health access is made possible in part with funding from First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) and Thunderbird Partnership Foundation. Their support does not imply endorsement of or influence over the content produced. Chehala Leonard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
VICTORIA — British Columbia health officials are reporting a dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases, while they order a pause indoor physical activities. B.C. recorded 941 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and 10 deaths.There are 7,732 active COVID-19 cases in B.C., and 284 people are in hospital. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix say in a joint statement that residents need to support B.C.'s health-care workers by slowing the spread of COVID-19. The latest peak in numbers comes as health officials ordered dance studios, yoga studios and other indoor physical activity spaces to suspend operations as new guidance is developed.Henry and Dix urged the public to think of COVID-19 patients and the effect the virus is having on their family members.Earlier Tuesday, the Fraser Health Authority announced that 55 patients and 40 staff at Burnaby General Hospital had tested positive for COVID-19 and most patient admissions to the hospital would be suspended.The health authority also announced five deaths due to the virus.Patients in the intensive care unit, maternity, and community palliative care will still be admitted.The health authority says a fire in the hospital's emergency room last week contributed to the outbreak, as patients were moved to areas of the hospital they normally would not be.Also on Tuesday, Solicitor General Mike Farnworth extended the province's state of emergency until Dec. 8 and laid out enforcement measures for wearing masks in B.C.People 12 years and older are required to wear masks in indoor settings, ranging from malls to public transportation, and failure to do so can result in a $230 fine.People who cannot wear a mask, or who cannot put on or remove a mask without the assistance of others, are exempt from the new order.The detailed guidelines come as the union representing British Columbia teachers called on parents to support a "culture" of wearing masks as it continues to push for a mandatory mask policy in schools.Teri Mooring, the head of the BC Teachers' Federation, said in an open letter to parents that the union is looking for help in implementing and following mask-wearing protocols.The federation has repeatedly called on provincial health officials to make masks mandatory in schools.Mooring said some schools have already taken the step to make mask wearing normal and expected and it helps everyone to make schools feel safer. Henry has said that schools have specific COVID-19 safety plans and are exempt from the new mandatory mask requirements set out last week. Henry told a news conference Monday that students are in schools with a group of people they see day-to-day, unlike businesses where people interact with others they don't know, necessitating wearing a mask.She said she supports mask wearing in common areas and among adults at schools.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.The Canadian Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:21 p.m. EST on Nov. 24, 2020:There are 341,503 confirmed cases in Canada._ Quebec: 134,330 confirmed (including 6,887 deaths, 116,624 resolved) _ Ontario: 106,510 confirmed (including 3,519 deaths, 90,074 resolved) _ Alberta: 49,536 confirmed (including 492 deaths, 35,695 resolved) _ British Columbia: 27,407 confirmed (including 348 deaths, 19,069 resolved) _ Manitoba: 14,558 confirmed (including 248 deaths, 5,633 resolved) _ Saskatchewan: 6,883 confirmed (including 37 deaths, 3,919 resolved) _ Nova Scotia: 1,227 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,075 resolved) _ New Brunswick: 450 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 350 resolved) _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 323 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 295 resolved) _ Nunavut: 144 confirmed (including 2 resolved) _ Prince Edward Island: 69 confirmed (including 64 resolved) _ Yukon: 38 confirmed (including 1 death, 24 resolved) _ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed (including 13 resolved) _ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved) _ Total: 341,503 (0 presumptive, 341,503 confirmed including 11,608 deaths, 272,850 resolved)This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.The Canadian PressNote to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said New Brunswick has had 451 cases.
The Limerick Friends’ Club hosted another takeout dinner to raise money for a worthwhile local cause. The dinner was held Nov. 14 at the Limerick Community Centre, and people came to pick up their meals from 4 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. According to Jo-Anne Carrol, they served over 60 people, down from the number of patrons who came to the takeout dinner back in September, but not bad either, considering the ongoing pandemic. Proceeds from the dinner went towards the Coe Hill Food Bank, to help out with their Christmas baskets. Even though they weren’t able to attend the dinner on Saturday, Councillor Ingo Weise and his wife Bonnie, who is a member of the Friends’ Club, helped set things up the day before. He acknowledged the impact that the Limerick Friends Club has had in raising money for worthy causes in years past, and how difficult it has been this year with COVID-19. “The Friends’ Club has most recently donated money to Wollaston Township for Halloween candy because the children couldn’t go door to door. These dinners have also provided an important social function in the community where people could get out and meet their neighbours. The roast beef dinner on Nov. 14 was held as a take-out so the social aspect will be missing although the volunteers themselves were finally able to get back together. The township of Limerick gratefully acknowledges the important service the Friends Club and all our volunteers provide to our community.” Dawn Lockhart, the chair of the Limerick Friends’ Club was busy in the kitchen on the evening of Nov. 14, but described the menu when she came out to deliver a few dinners to patron Lawrence Hiltz. “There’s roast beef, mashed potatoes, vegetables, a little bit of horseradish in there too, nice fresh homemade bread, coleslaw and gravy,” she says. “We also have a delicious triple layer cake for dessert and when that runs out, we have four different types of pie; apple, blueberry, strawberry rhubarb and cherry.” Jo-Anne Carrol was also helping out in the kitchen, and described the volunteers’ routine getting everything together. “We started yesterday peeling potatoes and things like that, and then the meat was cooked at 8 a.m. this morning. Then we came back at noon to do the rest. We’re getting to be a well-oiled machine. Our first one [the takeout dinner back in September] was a little delayed, but this one worked out really well. It’s a real learning curve,” she says. The price for this takeaway dinner was $15 for adults, $7 for children aged six years to 12 years, and kids under five years old ate for free. Sharon Boomhour was outside the community centre collecting money for the dinners and accepting donations. All told, they ended up raising around $850. Diane Percy explained that they intended to donate the money in the form of gift cards to the Coe Hill Food Bank’s Christmas baskets. “They put them in the baskets and we’ll be giving them a bunch of gift cards for that. And then we’ll also be donating some money to the seniors’ program for the lunches they serve down in Tudor and Cashel,” she says. The people coming by to pick up their meals seemed to be pleased that they were happening, even if it was takeaway versus an indoor dining experience. Nicolette Mitchell came by to pick up a couple of meals. “I think it’s great. I used to come for all the dinners so I try to make it for these,” she says. Geraldine Woodbank agreed with that sentiment. “Oh, yeah! If you want good cooks, you come here,” she says. Margaret Park comes by for all the dinners, as she lives just up the road from the community centre. “I kind of miss it where everyone’s inside because you get to see people and catch up,” she says. Lucy Leftman also came by and said she used to come for these dinners all the time, though not as much as she used to. “This is kind of nice, the fact that they’ve figured out a way to work around the whole thing [COVID-19],” she says.Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times
CALGARY — Canadian Blood Services is closely watching the second wave of COVID-19 to make sure the national blood supply remains secure. The organization has not been able to accommodate as many donors at clinics due to physical distancing required since the novel coronavirus appeared earlier this year. About 400,000 of Canada's 37 million population give blood on a regular basis. Canadian Blood Services operates a national inventory that allows products to be regularly shifted around the country to meet hospital and patient needs. But the inventory has a shelf life — a year for frozen plasma, 42 days for red blood cells and five days for platelets — so it takes some work to ensure supply continues to meet demand. So far, Canadians are still giving enough blood. "Things are still in good shape with the blood system in terms of our inventory. It's a healthy inventory right now for sure," said Peter MacDonald, director of donor relations. "We're watching very closely as things move forward and we get hot spots across the country along with the second wave." MacDonald said when shutdowns went into place in March, there was less demand for blood, because many elective surgeries were postponed and trauma cases dropped in emergency rooms as people stayed home and off the roads. The resumptions of elective surgeries in the summer increased demand and the agency hasn't seen that change in the second wave, he said. "In July, hospital demand got back to pre-COVID levels. We haven't seen that dip yet in the second wave in terms of demand that we saw in March and April," MacDonald said. "We're monitoring the inventory every single day and forecasting up to eight and 12 weeks as to where we expect it to be. The forecast is good right now, but under these conditions it can change pretty quickly." A Calgary vascular surgeon said doctors have been in constant contact with Canadian Blood Services since March. "Are people not going to donate or are we going to need more blood?" asked Dr. Greg Samis, an assistant clinical professor at the University of Calgary. "Will the crisis end up with so many people so sick that we won't be able to get blood donation from anyone?" Samis said Canadian Blood Services has a green, yellow or red alert scale. He said it has been mostly green and "we haven't been at red at all." But even with another reduction in elective surgeries, it's doubtful blood demand will drop off, he said. "There are a few things in cardiac surgery and vascular surgery where we would be doing operations during COVID ... but almost all of it is going to be trauma and unplanned events," Samis said. "We need an ongoing bank account and we don't want to keep withdrawing from it until we hit below the critical level." This report by The Canadian Press was first published November 25, 2020. — Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Consumer rights advocates are criticizing the latest statement on airline refunds from the country's transport regulator, saying it contradicts federal and provincial rules to the detriment of customers.The Canadian Transportation Agency updated its statement on vouchers last week, writing that "the law does not require airlines to include refund provisions" in their passenger contracts — known as tariffs — for flights cancelled due to reasons beyond carriers' control, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.The CTA website post tops up its initial statement on travel credit from March, which suggested refunds are mandatory only if the tariff provides for it in certain cases.However, passenger rights advocates say both statements go against federal and provincial law and legal precedent.An airline's terms of carriage must clearly lay out its policy on matters including "refunds for services purchased but not used ... either as a result of the client’s unwillingness or inability to continue or the air carrier’s inability to provide the service for any reason," according to regulations under the Canada Transportation Act.The same terms and conditions must be "just and reasonable," the Air Transportation Regulations state. In at least four decisions going back to 2004, the CTA has cited the phrase in upholding passengers' right to reimbursement following flight cancellation.A 2013 decision concerning Porter Airlines found that “it is unreasonable for Porter to refuse to refund the fare paid by a passenger because of its cancellation of a flight, even if the cause is an event beyond Porter’s control.""The refund has to be addressed in the tariff. And the tariff has to be just and reasonable," said Gabor Lukacs, founder of the Air Passenger Rights group.Provincial laws also go against the regulator's statement, said Elyse Thériault, a lawyer for Quebec-based advocacy group Option consommateurs."For us, it's nonsense, especially in Quebec. Because the rules in the Civil Code that are speaking about force majeure — act of God — say that if a merchant cannot deliver the service because of a force majeure, then he must give a refund."Provincial law applies to companies regardless of whether they are provincially or federally regulated, Thériault said, citing Supreme Court of Canada precedent."And I’m pretty confident that no province in their contract law and in their consumer protection laws allow a business to take your money without giving you any service."Passenger protection regulations rolled out last year stipulate that, in the event of a cancellation that is within the carrier’s control, airlines must “refund the unused portion of the ticket” if alternate travel arrangements do not suit the customer’s needs.If a flight is cancelled for reasons outside an airline’s control, however, the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR) only require alternate arrangements, not a refund — though tariffs at multiple airlines when the pandemic hit spelled out passengers’ right to a refund as an alternative."If the CTA is given the necessary authority, we will move quickly to make changes to the APPR to fix this gap in the framework. In the meantime, we encourage airlines to adopt policies providing for refunds if flights are disrupted for reasons outside their control and rebooking options do not meet a passenger's needs," the CTA said in an email."The CTA does not apply provincial law."As for case law, the agency said its past decisions "may have limited relevance in the face of new circumstances," including last year's passenger rights charter.Lukacs argued the new batch of regulations does not nullify older ones that, when paired with previous CTA decisions, amount to a refund requirement.Most Canadian airlines continue to offer travel vouchers rather than reimbursement for flights they cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with WestJet a notable exception since October.Transport Minister Marc Garneau said earlier this month that an aid package now in the works for commercial carriers will hinge on them offering refunds to passengers whose trips were nixed — a long-standing demand by advocates and opposition parties.The pandemic has devastated airlines and the broader tourism industry, with travel restrictions and collapsing demand prompting tens of thousands of airline layoffs and billions of dollars in losses.But customers say they too are in need of funds they believe they are owed.The CTA says it has received more than 10,000 complaints since March. Meanwhile Air Canada garnered more refund complaints to the U.S. Department of Transportation than any American carrier in August, the latest month for which statistics are available.Passengers have also filed a handful of proposed class-action lawsuits and three petitions with more than 109,000 signatures that call for customer reimbursement.The CTA said in March that airlines have the right to issue travel credit instead of a refund for cancelled trips in the "current context," though it later clarified that the online statement was "not a binding decision" and that reimbursements depend in part on the contract between airline and passenger. "The statement was issued in extraordinary circumstances and addressed the risk that passengers would be left with nothing in the event of flight cancellations outside of the airline's control," the CTA said Tuesday.It added that complaints remain an avenue for travellers, though as of several weeks ago none of the 10,000-plus filed to the CTA had been handled due to an earlier backlog.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee’s governor says that once coronavirus vaccines become available, they will be optional in the state’s K-12 public schools.Gov. Bill Lee said Tuesday that vaccines will be very important for Tennessee to “ultimately really be able to handle” the pandemic. But he says he doesn’t foresee vaccine mandates for school districts in Tennessee.In his words, “Vaccines are a choice and people have the choice and will have the choice in this state as to whether or not they should take that vaccine.”The state’s health commissioner says the first doses could arrive in Tennessee around Dec. 15. The first wave will be reserved for frontline health care workers and first responders. She says widespread availability would likely be in late spring or early summer.___HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:— Tokyo governor: Japan can host Olympics despite virus spike.— Millions in US stick to Thanksgiving travel plans despite CDC warnings.— Keep the mask: A vaccine won’t end the US crisis right away.— Just in time for December holidays, England to cut its mandatory 14-day quarantines for travellers from unsafe virus countries to as little as five days with testing regimen.— Los Angeles on the brink of a stay-home order as coronavirus cases rise.— Drones to the rescue: Berlin lab seeks quicker virus tests.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak___HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:EL PASO, Texas — Officials in El Paso County in Texas plan to impose a new curfew in hopes of combatting a surge in coronavirus cases that is overrunning the border area’s hospitals and funeral homes.El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego has said Gov. Greg Abbott’s office has approved the curfew. In a letter sent last week to Abbott, Samaniego said the curfew would be limited in nature and would not interfere with people seeking to access essential or nonessential services.The county judge and state officials have been at odds over Samaniego’s efforts to implement rules to slow the virus’ spread in the border city of El Paso.Earlier this month, an appeals court overturned an El Paso County order that would have closed nonessential businesses, including gyms and salons.___INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana has nearly recorded its most COVID-19 deaths for a single month with a week remaining as health officials on Tuesday added 103 more deaths to the state’s pandemic toll.The Indiana State Department of Health’s daily update included the new deaths mostly occurring over the past several days through Monday, and which push November’s total to at least 991.Indiana’s monthly high for COVID-19 deaths was 1,041 in April, when at most the state’s moving seven-day average was 42 fatalities a day. That daily average has now reached 51 as Indiana’s hospitals are treating nearly double the number of coronavirus patients as at any point since seeing their first infections in March.Coronavirus hospitalizations have reached a level where health care leaders say the system is becoming overwhelmed and some hospitals have started rationing care to treat those most severely ill.___ATLANTA — Although White House officials are pushing Georgia to do more to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Brian Kemp said Tuesday that the responsibility rests with individual Georgians, as he implored them to take precautions over Thanksgiving.The holiday comes at a perilous moment for the state. Although the virus is spreading more slowly in Georgia than in 40 other states, according to figures kept by The Associated Press, the number of infections is still rising rapidly and approaching the peak Georgia saw in late July.The Republican governor repeated the same guidance he’s been giving Georgians since summer, that they should wear masks, keep their distance from others, wash their hands, and follow Kemp’s rules, including bans on large gatherings. The governor said he wasn’t planning any other measures, such as a statewide mask mandate, or renewed restrictions on businesses.Also on Tuesday, a second member of Congress from Georgia tested positive for COVID-19.Republican U.S. Rep. Rick Allen of Evans announced Tuesday that a test shows he has the coronavirus. Allen represents the 12th District stretching from Augusta across all or part of 19 counties.He says he has no symptoms and will isolate at home. Republican U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson of West Point tested positive in October after experiencing mild symptoms. U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler had isolated after she got a positive COVID-19 test on Friday, but has since gotten two straight negative tests.___LOS ANGELES — A California judge has rejected a request from a restaurant industry group to block the nation’s most populous county from reinstating a ban on outdoor dining, a plan the group said would devastate businesses and workers.The California Restaurant Association asked a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge Tuesday to block the order until county health officials provide medical or scientific evidence that it poses an unreasonable risk to public health.The group challenged an order issued Sunday in light of soaring coronavirus cases that prohibits restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars from providing in-person, outdoor dining.The new rule scheduled to take effect Wednesday would restrict restaurants, bars and other businesses in the county to takeout and delivery.___JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi’s top health official said he is exhausted trying to convince people in the state to take the coronavirus seriously and follow public health guidelines.“I’ll just to confess to you guys, I’m exhausted trying to convince folks to do stuff. It’s just going nowhere,” Dr. Thomas Dobbs, Mississippi’s state health officer, said Monday during a meeting with members of the Mississippi Senate.Mississippi, with a population of about 3 million, has reported more than 144,500 confirmed coronavirus cases and at least 3,729 deaths from COVID-19. Hospitalizations are rising, with 946 people hospitalized in Mississippi with coronavirus Monday, compared with 560 on Nov. 4, according to the state Department of Health.Speaking to the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee on Monday, Dobbs said there is no “collective will” among the public to prevent the virus.___ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Atlantic City’s casinos are slowly resuming live entertainment, bringing back a staple of the casino experience as they comply with government-mandated restrictions designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.Hard Rock on Tuesday announced a series of Motown-themed Christmas shows from Dec. 11-30, saying its customers are getting antsy with months of coronavirus restrictions.“Public demand is looking for activities, especially with outdoor temperatures keeping everyone inside,” said Hard Rock president Joe Lupo. “The large showrooms, with better air circulation and spacious seating, and less than 10% of normal (occupancy) can provide that safe and fun night out.”Tickets will be sold as individual tables of two and four seats to ensure social distancing.___BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota’s department of health has released figures showing that November has become the state's deadliest month due to complications from COVID-19.State officials confirmed Tuesday a record high of 37 deaths in the last day, bringing the overall death toll to 883 since the start of the pandemic. There have been 317 fatalities in November, surpassing the October tally of 295.Figures released Monday by Johns Hopkins University researchers lists North Dakota’s death count as the 39th highest in the country and the eighth highest per capita at 112 deaths per 100,000 people.State health officials said fatality updates on Tuesday are typically higher because of lag in reporting from the weekends.___MOSCOW — Russia has released new results claiming its experimental coronavirus vaccine is highly effective and will cost less than vaccines made by some Western competitors.Russian Direct Investment Fund, which bankrolled the development of the shot, says Sputnik V will cost less than $10 per dose — or less than $20 for the two doses needed to vaccinate one person — on international markets. The vaccine will be free for Russians. Developers of the vaccine say it was 91.4% effective, according to new trial data.Pfizer and Moderna shots cost about $20 and $15-25 per dose respectively, based on agreements the companies have struck to supply their vaccines to the U.S. government.Russia drew international criticism for giving Sputnik V regulatory approval before it underwent advanced testing among tens of thousands of people required to ensure its safety and effectiveness.Russia has reported 2.1 million confirmed cases and more than 36,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.___COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio might get the potential coronavirus vaccine by Dec. 15, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday, citing his office’s conversations with federal officials.Any vaccine candidate must be peer reviewed and get approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.The priority would be distribution to health care workers, followed by populations considered at high-risk for the coronavirus. The governor didn’t identify which company’s vaccine the state would receive.Meanwhile, nearly 4,500 patients in Ohio are hospitalized with COVID-19-related symptoms. That includes more than 1,000 on intensive care units and more than 570 on ventilators, according to state Health Department data.The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Ohio has risen from 4,724 cases on Nov. 9 to 8,277 on Monday, according to an Associated Press analysis of data provided by The COVID Tracking Project.—-MADRID — Spain is reporting a new daily record of 537 coronavirus deaths since the resurgence of the pandemic.The country’s 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 of population fell Tuesday to 362. That’s down from 529 on Nov. 9, at the peak of the resurgence.Spain has since enlisted emergency measures limiting movement and social gatherings.Spain’s total coronavirus cases stands at nearly 1.6 million, with more than 43,600 deaths.___TOKYO — Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike remains firm about safely hosting the Olympics in July.Japan has experienced an uptick in infections this month, with a nationwide daily total exceeding 2,000 as the government tries to balance preventive measures and business activity.International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach spent four days in Tokyo last week trying to assure the public and sponsors the Olympics will take place on July 23.Koike credits widespread use of masks for Japan’s lower infections compared to the United States and Europe. Tokyo topped 500 cases last week. It reported 186 new cases on Tuesday for a total of nearly 38,200.The health ministry says Japan has 135,000 total cases and nearly 2,000 confirmed deaths. The U.S. has 12.4 million cases and more than 258,000 deaths. Britain leads Europe with 1.5 million cases and 56,000 confirmed deaths.___NEW YORK — Governors and mayors are ratcheting up mask mandates and imposing restrictions on small indoor gatherings that have been blamed for accelerating the spread of the coronavirus.Officials are banking on voluntary compliance since such measures are largely unenforceable.Health experts say if people disregard the new state and local restrictions and socialize anyway, that could put greater stress on overburdened hospitals and lead to an even bigger spike in sickness and death after the holidays.The nation is averaging 172,000 new virus cases per day, nearly double since the end of October, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.The U.S. leads the world with 12.4 million cases and nearly 258,000 confirmed deaths since the start of the pandemic.___OMAHA, Neb. — The number of people hospitalized with coronavirus in Nebraska remains near record levels, but the total has remained relatively the past week.The state says 971 people were hospitalized with the virus on Monday. Over the past week, that figure has gone up and down between a low of 961 last Wednesday and Friday’s record of 987.But more social distancing restrictions could be triggered soon because more than 23% of the state’s hospital beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients. Gov. Pete Ricketts has said that more restrictions will be imposed when that figure reaches 25% of the state’s hospital beds.Nebraska reported 1,860 new cases of the virus Monday to reach 115,921. The state reported 25 new deaths for a confirmed total of 934.___GUILFORD, Maine — A Maine medical supply manufacturer has been awarded more than $11 million from the federal government to produce millions of additional testing swabs.Republican Sen. Susan Collins says Puritan Medical Products of Guilford received the money through the federal Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. Collins says the company will increase its production of swabs by three million per month.The White House in June said the federal government was providing more than $75 million for Puritan to double its production to 40 million swabs per month.The company’s total production is at least 90 million per month now, Collins says.The state has reported nearly 10,800 cases and 189 confirmed deaths since the start of the pandemic.___MADRID — Spain officials say health workers and residents in elder care homes will be the first group vaccinated when potential doses arrive.Health Minister Salvador Illa says Spain has signed agreements with five vaccine producers and hopes to do so with two more. Once the vaccines are approved by the European Medicines Agency, Spain hopes to receive 140 million doses.Given most vaccines will involve two doses, he says this should be enough to vaccinate some 80 million people and cover any possible problems with some vaccines.Spain, with a population of 47 million, intends to give vaccines for free and provide the excess vaccines to countries outside the European Union that need them, Illa says.The government hopes to vaccinate some 2.5 million people in the first stage between January and March and the rest of the population by mid-year. The vaccinations will be given in Spain’s 13,000 public health centres.Spain has reported more than 1.5 million cases and more than 43,000 confirmed deaths.The Associated Press