ABC News’ Bob Woodruff reports on Johnson and Johnson’s move to phase 3 trials for its vaccine, which unlike other vaccines is intended to be administered only once.
ABC News’ Bob Woodruff reports on Johnson and Johnson’s move to phase 3 trials for its vaccine, which unlike other vaccines is intended to be administered only once.
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) logged 40 new cases of COVID-19 Monday, while marking 57 more cases resolved, lowering the number of known active cases in the city to 347.Both that number and the rolling average of new cases have returned to levels unseen since mid-September.OPH also reported the death of another resident at a long-term care home where an outbreak has been declared, bringing the city's death toll to 367.More than sixty per cent of the city's latest cases are people under the age of 40.A total of 8,212 Ottawa residents have now tested positive for COVID-19. The vast majority of those cases — 7,498 — are considered resolved.In the Outaouais, which has about one-third of Ottawa's population, 48 more people have tested positive for COVID-19. The region is now averaging 39 new cases a day.More than 85 per cent of the cases in western Quebec are in Gatineau, currently a red zone on the province's pandemic scale. With 42 patients curently in hospital, the Outaouais is outpacing Ottawa in that category as well. Thirty patients are currently being treated for COVID-19 in Ottawa hospitals, including two in intensive care.An outbreak is over at École élémentaire catholique des Pionniers, leaving active outbreaks at four schools, nine long-term care homes and one hospital in Ottawa.Elsewhere, an outbreak at École secondaire publique L'Héritage in Cornwall, Ont., has also ended, the last COVID-19 outbreak at an eastern Ontario school outside Ottawa.Colour by numbersAmong the key indicators that could allow Ottawa to move from orange to yellow on Ontario's pandemic scale: * The per-capita rate of COVID-19 sits at 24.6, just below the orange zone threshold of 25. * The test positivity rate is 1.8 per cent; the yellow zone threshold is 1.2 per cent.The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) has moved from orange to the less severe yellow, while the health unit covering the Kingston, Ont., area went from green to yellow.The rest of eastern Ontario is green, the lowest level on the province's pandemic scale.
A former chief of Siksika Nation and Blackfoot leader, Isapo-muxika, is one of several historical figures under consideration to be featured on the Bank of Canada’s new $5 bill. Eight shortlisted candidates are being considered for the new note selected from a list of 600 eligible nominees from a six-week public consultation process that ended March 11, 2020. Over 45,000 Canadians participated in the process. Isapo-muxika or Sahpo Muxika, known more commonly as Crowfoot, was born circa 1830 near Belly River, Alta. and died April 25, 1890 near Blackfoot Crossing. Crowfoot was a leader of the Blackfoot Confederacy and known for his judicious use of diplomacy, and for being an advocate for peace between Indigenous nations and with settlers. He was instrumental in the Treaty 7 negotiations, and in preventing the Blackfoot Confederacy from participating in the North-West Resistance of 1885. Later in life, he also fostered peace with neighbouring Indigenous peoples. Others shortlisted for the $5 bill include Pitseolak Ashoona, Robertine Barry (“Françoise”), Binaaswi (Francis Pegahmagabow), Won Alexander Cumyow, Terry Fox, Lotta Hitschmanova, and Onondeyoh (Frederick Ogilvie Loft). The list will be submitted for consideration to the Minister of Finance. Each candidate will be judged on enacting positive change, being a national icon, universality (impacting Canada, reflecting values), uniqueness, and relevancy. The selected candidate will be announced in early 2021.Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
LONDON — Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals.The results are based on interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of a vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca. No hospitalizations or severe cases of COVID-19 were reported in those receiving the vaccine.AstraZeneca is the third major drug company to report late-stage results for a potential COVID-19 vaccine as the world anxiously waits for scientific breakthroughs that will bring an end to a pandemic that has wrought economic devastation and resulted in nearly 1.4 million confirmed deaths.Pfizer and Moderna last week reported preliminary results from late-stage trials showing their vaccines were almost 95% effective. But, unlike its rivals, the AstraZeneca vaccine doesn't have to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, making it easier to distribute, especially in developing countries.“I think these are really exciting results,” Dr. Andrew Pollard, chief investigator for the trial, said during a news conference. “Because the vaccine can be stored at fridge temperatures, it can be distributed around the world using the normal immunization distribution system. And so our goal … to make sure that we have a vaccine that was accessible everywhere, I think we’ve actually managed to do that.”The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is also cheaper. AstraZeneca, which has pledged it won’t make a profit on the vaccine during the pandemic, has reached agreements with governments and international health organizations that put its cost at about $2.50 a dose. Pfizer’s vaccine costs about $20 a dose, while Moderna's is $15 to $25, based on agreements the companies have struck to supply their vaccines to the U.S. government.All three vaccines must be approved by regulators before they can be widely distributed.Oxford researchers and AstraZeneca stressed that they aren't competing with other projects, and that multiple vaccines will be needed to reach enough of the world's population and end the pandemic.“We’re not thinking about vaccinations working in terms of one person at a time. We have to think about vaccinating communities, populations, reducing transmission within those populations, so that we really get on top of this pandemic,'' said Sarah Gilbert, a leader of the Oxford research team. “And that’s what it now looks like we’re going to have the ability to contribute to in a really big way.''The results come as a second wave of COVID-19 hits many countries, once again shutting businesses, restricting social interaction and pummeling the world economy.AstraZeneca said it will immediately apply for early approval of the vaccine where possible, and it will seek an emergency use listing from the World Health Organization, so it can make the vaccine available in low-income countries.The AstraZeneca trial looked at two different dosing regimens. A half-dose of the vaccine followed by a full dose at least one month later was 90% effective. Another approach, giving patients two full doses one month apart, was 62% effective. The combined results showed an average efficacy rate of 70%.The vaccine uses a weakened version of a common cold virus that is combined with genetic material for the characteristic spike protein of the virus that causes COVID-19. After vaccination, the spike protein primes the immune system to attack the virus if it later infects the body.The vaccine can be transported under “normal refrigerated conditions” of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius (36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit), AstraZeneca said. By comparison, Pfizer plans to distribute its vaccine using specially designed “thermal shippers” that use dry ice to maintain temperatures of minus-70 degrees Celsius (minus-94 degrees Fahrenheit).Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, said the finding that a smaller initial dose is more effective than a larger one is good news because it may reduce costs and mean more people can be vaccinated.“The report that an initial half-dose is better than a full dose seems counterintuitive for those of us thinking of vaccines as normal drugs: With drugs, we expect that higher doses have bigger effects, and more side-effects,” he said. “But the immune system does not work like that.”The results reported Monday come from trials in the U.K. and Brazil that involved 23,000 people. Late-stage trials are also underway in the U.S., Japan, Russia, South Africa, Kenya and Latin America, with further trials planned for other European and Asian countries.AstraZeneca has been ramping up manufacturing capacity, so it can supply hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccine starting in January, Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said earlier this month.Soriot said Monday that the Oxford vaccine’s simpler supply chain and AstraZeneca’s commitment to provide it on a non-profit basis during the pandemic mean it will be affordable and available to people around the world.“This vaccine’s efficacy and safety confirm that it will be highly effective against COVID-19 and will have an immediate impact on this public health emergency,’’ Soriot said.British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he felt “a great sense of relief” at the news from AstraZeneca.Britain has ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine, and the government says several million doses can be produced before the end of the year if it is approved by regulators.Just months ago, “the idea that by November we would have three vaccines, all of which have got high effectiveness … I would have given my eye teeth for,” Hancock said.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakDanica Kirka And Jill Lawless, The Associated Press
A Chatham-Kent councillor wants to make the most of the local waterways. On Monday, West Kent Coun. Melissa Harrigan will be presenting a motion to develop a working group focused on water in Chatham-Kent. “It’s actually something that I campaigned on – getting a more holistic water strategy discussed in Chatham-Kent because many of our communities touch water in some way shape or form,” she said. Harrigan said the group would not so much be focused on conservation, although that would play a part, but rather “what we should do in terms of access to water and bridge repair.” “I’m looking out my window now, there’s a river in my backyard, and I’d love to see more people kayaking on that river,” she said. Compared to other waterfront communities, Chatham-Kent's natural amenities are under-promised and not well recognized, according to Harrigan. “I want to see very much what I would describe as a celebration of water.” Some of the initiatives Harrigan has in mind include increasing rental locations for kayakers and paddlers. There is already a movement in Wheatley to develop the harbour and waterfront, as well as Wallaceburg where there’s a movement to have supportive infrastructure that enables WAMBO further, according to Harrigan. Harrigan said more public access to the water will draw in more tourism, both locally and from neighbouring regions, which in turn will also help raise awareness of conservation efforts. Recently local kayaker Sally Joyce gained attention by local media for cleaning up the rivers, hauling laundry bags full of garbage. Harrigan referenced that as another example of projects she hopes the working group can help expand on. “We’ve had a lot of challenges and I think there’s a lot of opportunities for us to embrace water,” she said. “We need to get feedback and pull people together to talk about what the best approach is. ” “I’d like to see Chatham-Kent step up its game.” Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice
NORTH HURON – The Howson Dam spillway will be tested for stability to provide information to North Huron council that will ensure the structure’s safety, before any more plans are put in place regarding the dam. A report was submitted to council on Nov. 16 by Jamie McCarthy, director of public works, that included a proposal from Chant Limited to test the spillway, “a passage for surplus water from a dam or reservoir,” according to the Oxford Canadian Dictionary. This testing is to confirm the suitability of the existing concrete for rehabilitation and provide information regarding the dam’s safety if it were to be left in place. After decades of discussion, studies, and proposals, councillors recognize the need to move forward with some form of decision. Even though the money to do yet another study seems redundant, they passed the motion to accept the proposal. In a recorded vote, which passed 5–2, council authorized the first of two phases in the proposal at a total of $46,860 (exclusive of taxes). It will revisit phase two at a later date, once they have some answers from Chant Limited. According to the report, Chant Limited was the only company that submitted a bid for the Howson Dam Request for Proposal (RFP). Chant Limited’s submission was complete and provided costing for Phase One and Two. Phase One is the core sampling, testing, and reporting to North Huron council on the findings. Phase Two is the development of detailed estimates for all costs associated with removing the bridge and rehabilitation of the Howson Dam spillways. Their bid is as follows: A. Phase One – Concrete Spillway Testing - $46,860 B. Phase Two – Project Estimate (AACE Class 3) - $47,835 This engineering will be funded from the existing Howson Bridge Reserve Fund, which has a balance of $93,759. If through Phase One, core sampling and testing provide the outcome that triggers Phase Two, there will be a shortfall of $936. The outcome of Phase One will provide the information necessary for council to begin fundraising to rehabilitate the dam or to assure that the dam can stay in place as it is, safely.Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
These weren’t the piano lessons of my youth. Quite the opposite.Gone was the septuagenarian teacher crowding me on a piano bench at my grandmother’s house, extolling the importance of Christian hymns. “Old Rugged Cross,” “Jesus Loves Me,” “How Great Thou Art." Grandma finally accepted my resignation after a few solid years of protest.Then last spring, as the pandemic droned on, I’d lost my job, and our schools in the Boston area remained closed, I decided to start taking piano lessons again.It had been 30 years. The grand staff was a foreign language and the only key I could recognize was middle C.The first day, I propped up my phone, clicked a Zoom link for our lesson and found an energetic college student staring back at me.I’d been thinking about returning to piano for a while, but never had the free time required for learning a skill until the shutdown in March. It was rainy and frigid in New England, and I needed an antidote for the monotony of pandemic life. Some were tending sourdough starters, others binge-watched Netflix. I started piano lessons.I wasn’t the only one who chose music.NEW WAYS TO PASS TIME“I knew nothing about the ukulele community before COVID,” said Pat Adamson-Waitley, 64, of Edina, Minnesota.Adamson-Waitley had played the ukulele a handful of times, but in March, she said, “I started playing it every day.”She joined Zoom jams with other players, and bought two ukuleles and two songbooks. Summer's warm weather took her away from the ukulele a little, but she still averages 30 minutes of playing time a day.Clubs like the Twin Cities ukulele club, an informal group of about 300 people, have welcomed many people discovering music for the first time, or finding it again. Tom Ehlinger, 69, of Bloomington, Minnesota, leads the club’s weekly Zoom jams.“One thing that’s different about the Zoom jam is that it’s much easier to get to than an in-person jam,” he said. “There’s no traffic.”Since March, Ehlinger has received inquiries from people as far away as New York City wanting to join.“It brings people together solely for the purpose of doing something enjoyable,” he said.NEVER A BETTER TIMEAs for formal lessons, Andrew Geant, co-founder of Chicago-based Wyzant, an online marketplace for private tutors, said music has become one of the company’s fastest growing areas. Cello tutors in April experienced a 450 per cent increase in students and a 400 per cent rise in lessons from last year, he said. By October, the number had grown to a 4,500 per cent increase in students and a 4,730 per cent increase in lessons.The cost of online lessons is lower than in-person instruction, Geant noted. And if the student and teacher don’t match well, it’s easy to find a new instructor.“Online, you can find the right instructor because you’re no longer bound by geography,” he said.Rashida Bryant, 44, is an Atlanta-based voice instructor through Wyzant who saw her client roster double from April to June, when she had 30 students.Her students range in age from early teenagers to people in their late 60s.“Everybody has different reasons for doing it, but if you’re going to be at home, then this is a better time than any,” she said.A SENSE OF CONTROLTurning to music during bleak times has a long history, said Joy Allen, chair of Music Therapy at Berklee College of Music in Boston.“It gives us choice and control, and we don’t have a lot of that right now,” she said.Music also provides social connection, Allen said, and a link to the familiar.During lockdown, private piano lessons for Andrea Cordero Fage’s two teenage sons in Harrison, New York, stopped, but something new happened. The brothers, whose interest in music has waxed and waned over the years, “came into their own musically,” she said. “I would have never imagined it.”They started playing piano for hours a day. They researched movie soundtracks, like the one to the 2014 science fiction epic “Interstellar,” by Hans Zimmer, and learned the score on their own with the assistance of sites like YouTube.“After dinner, one would play and the other would watch. Then they’d switch,” Cordero Fage said. “I think they fed off each other, saw it as a challenge.”Studying or listening to music can harness our focus, said Melita Belgrave, associate dean and professor of music therapy at Arizona State University.Throughout the pandemic, many people have been watching concerts at home but retaining a semblance of the shared experience. The millions of people who streamed the movie version of the Broadway musical “Hamilton” is an example.“People are finding themselves drawn to the arts and crafts,” Belgrave said. “We are learning new ways to connect with each other.”I haven’t figured out whether my Zoom piano lessons will continue past the pandemic. I've gone from knowing middle C to playing cusp chords, eight-key scales and Mozart.But even if returning to regular life interrupts my lessons, piano will always be one of my best pandemic memories.Tracee M. Herbaugh, The Associated Press
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Reggaeton superstar Bad Bunny has tested positive for the new coronavirus, his representative said Monday. The announcement came a day after the musician won favourite male Latin artist and favourite Latin album for "YHLQMDLG” at the American Music Awards. Bad Bunny, whose real name is Benito Martínez Ocasio, was scheduled to sing his hit, “Dákiti,” with Jhay Cortez at the event but cancelled without explanation, leaving many fans disappointed. The singer, however, presented the award for favourite Latin female artist remotely. Publicist Sujeylee Solá told The Associated Press that Bad Bunny wasn't showing any major symptoms as of Monday. She did not provide further details, saying only that the musician was not granting any interviews. The Associated Press
Agriculture in Labrador has always been a bit of a hard go. While there is a huge amount of agricultural land in the region — far more than on the island portion of the province — the vast majority of it is uncleared and even getting access to some of it could take years. There is a bright side, though. In recent years, a few new farms have popped up and one is even planning to sell local beef. Food insecurity is a big issue in Labrador, with high prices and the area only producing one per cent of the food it consumes. The provincial government created a work sector plan for agriculture in the last few years and highlighted some concerns producers are having in Labrador, including the lack of an abattoir or the ability to sell large-scale commercial eggs in the region and the need for more Crown land to be made available for agriculture. On Nature’s Best Farm, Desmond Sellars has been growing produce such as carrots and potatoes in the region for about 20 years. He is a familiar face to many in Happy Valley-Goose Bay as the guy who sells vegetables in front of the courthouse, There is a huge amount of opportunity for farmers in Labrador, according to Sellars, but he feels the industry is still in its infancy stage and 'requires a lot of zeroes in your bank account.’ “Farmers here in Labrador can produce more but it always comes down to policy around agriculture. There’s no question about the soil, there’s no question about the land being able to produce, but we do not have the right policy and the right supports at the present time to support increased agriculture here in Labrador.” Things are moving in the right direction, he said, with the province recognizing the need for more locally produced food, but agriculture is a long game and that’s even more true in Labrador. It can take years to get leased land from the government, he said, and that’s just the first hurdle. Since all agricultural land in Labrador is leased, not granted, farmers don’t have access to any capital from it to go to banks, and so have to invest a lot of their own money up front. Even then, he said, the province still owns it and when a farmer retires, all the investments they made on the land can be lost. Freight costs are another barrier, he said. It costs just as much to ship things sometimes as the items themselves. That drives up his cost, which is a barrier to selling his produce to local stores. It’s cheaper for local stores in bring in food from outside the province than buy from him, he said, and that needs to be addressed. “Farmers don’t need a handout, they need a hand up,” he said. ‘If I could, for example, be able to expense freight on a subsidy basis I could compete with P.E.I., Ontario, New Brunswick, and I’d have that market, I know I would. That wouldn’t be a terrible cost to anyone, but it would be a big step for producers.” At the end of the day, he said, young people need to see that agriculture is something worthwhile to pursue and he doesn’t see a lot of that messaging out there. While farming is a long-term investment because of the large upfront capital costs, he said, it can be very profitable and there need to be more conversations around that. “The whole notion of farming as an important, viable business for this province and for people to engage in, there aren’t enough conversations around that. Farming is an underdeveloped part of this province, that’s self-evident. For that to change it requires ongoing conversations and I would argue some policy changes. “ Jim Purdy is one of the operators of Birch Lane Farm on Mud Lake Road in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, which produces a wide variety of products, from produce to live chickens and live ducks to berries and jams. Purdy highlighted some of the same issues as Sellars, especially around the impact of freight costs and getting Crown land. “Our biggest competition isn’t here, it’s in Quebec and Ontario. They can sell their product cheaper here than we can produce it for. We have to depend on the local market, loyalty, to sell our products.” Purdy said people do recognize that locally grown food tastes better, but producers need to move into larger commercial markets to be able to grow and that isn’t possible right now. Other provinces have programs to assist with that, he said, and something needs to be done in Newfoundland and Labrador. Things that aren’t issues in less remote places, he said, like getting a tractor fixed or hiring someone to clear land, can be a real barrier in Labrador. “I would say that there’s less than 200 acres of cleared agricultural land in Labrador and in some places that’s a small farm,” he said. “It’s not like you can call someone and get them to do it. We don’t have the infrastructure here for agriculture, it’s as simple as that.” He said in his opinion other provinces have done a lot more to help with agricultural production and it doesn’t seem to be a priority for the government in Newfoundland and Labrador. Much like Sellars, Purdy cites the rules around Crown land and the unwillingness of government to grant it to farmers. “They can but they won’t,” he said. “It took me a few years to get a lease and that was on land no one else wanted. Can you imagine how long it would take if someone else had wanted it? I don’t know why the process takes so long but it isn’t helping anything. If you want to farm here, you better be ready for a long investment,” he said. When asked what could be done to help the industry grow Purdy said he didn’t even know where to start, but government offering more support is a big part of it. When SaltWire Network contacted Fisheries, Forestry, and Agriculture Minister Elvis Loveless, who was given the portfolio three months ago, he said he hasn’t had a chance go to Labrador to meet with local producers yet and discuss the issues, but he’s committed to doing so. “Our goal, in terms of helping farmers, is opening up access to land,” Loveless said when asked about the concerns expressed over the inability to get granted agricultural land. “Farmers, in order to grow vegetables, or just around the culture of growing, need land, there’s no doubt. I won’t make a commitment on a timeframe, but I will commit to talking to farmers. I’m looking to get on the ground in Labrador and have those conversations with them; what are their priorities moving their industry forward in Labrador?” Loveless said in terms of issues, it’s “all on the table.” He referenced recent investments made by the provincial government in the central Labrador region for community gardens and a cold storage and packaging facility in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and said there are plans to make more agricultural land available in the region. “Having access to safe and healthy food is on everyone’s minds, and addressing those needs has never been more important than right now, especially in Labrador, where the residents rely heavily on food imported from other areas, and that’s something we’d like to change.” Tomorrow: a new beef farm is the only one of its kind in Labrador. Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
NORTH HURON – A new investigator was appointed by North Huron to look into livestock and poultry incidents, when they have been injured or killed as a result of wildlife predators. The current municipal investigator/livestock and poultry valuer, Keith Black, notified the township of his resignation recently and was thanked for his many years of service. Following Black’s resignation, the township initiated a public recruitment process to fill the position. According to Carson Lamb, who prepared the report for council, at the closing date of the advertisement, no applicants expressed interest in the position. Randy Scott expressed his interest after the township reached out to other area municipalities to see if any individual would be interested in the position. Scott brings his knowledge and experience to North Huron. He will be enlarging his present territory of Howick Township, where he currently holds the investigator position. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture administers the Ontario Wildlife Damage Compensation Program (OWDCP). They provide compensation to eligible applicants whose livestock, poultry, or honeybees have been damaged or killed due to wildlife. The OWDCP stipulates that municipalities must appoint a municipal investigator/livestock and poultry valuer to investigate incidents of damage that have been reported to the clerk of the municipality. Under the OWDCP, the municipal investigator/livestock and poultry valuer is responsible for: · Carrying out a full and impartial investigation within 72 hours of receiving the notification of the injury or death of livestock or poultry. · Taking three to six colour photos per eligible kill/injury incurred and collecting all necessary information to complete the application accurately. · Providing a completed program application to the owner and the clerk of the municipality within seven business days of completing an investigation.Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
LONDON — Cineworld, which last month closed its cinemas in the U.S. and the U.K., has secured more than $750 million of new financing that it hopes will see it through the coronavirus pandemic.In a statement released Monday, the company said its finances will be bolstered over over the coming months largely from a new debt facility as well as an extension of an existing credit facility.Cineworld closed around 660 cinemas in the U.S. and Britain last month due to a lack of blockbusters as producers postpone releases because of the pandemic, including the latest James Bond film, “No Time to Die.”“We look forward to resuming our operations and welcoming movie fans around the world back to the big screen for an exciting and full slate of films in 2021,” said Mooky Greidinger, Cineworld’s chief executive.The group's base case scenario assumes a reopening of cinemas no later than May. In the event of a further delay, it said it expects to retain sufficient liquidity for a number of months longer, but said that may require support from lenders.Despite that caveat, news of the new financing arrangements sent shares shares in the company soaring 17% in London.The hope is that the new money will help the company ride out the pandemic until vaccines are available. Over recent weeks, a number of vaccine candidates have shown promising results.“With vaccine development progressing, this should give investors significantly greater confidence in Cineworld emerging from the crisis, allowing the company to capture demand as it returns with a robust slate of postponed films," analysts at Investec.The Associated Press
ROME — Pope Francis is supporting demands for racial justice in the wake of the U.S. police killing of George Floyd and is blasting COVID-19 skeptics and media organizations that spread their conspiracies in a new book penned during the Vatican’s coronavirus lockdown.In “Let Us Dream,” Francis also criticizes populist politicians who whip up rallies in ways reminiscent of the 1930s, and the hypocrisy of “rigid” conservative Catholics who support them. But he also criticizes the forceful downing of historic statues during protests for racial equality this year as a misguided attempt to “purify the past.”The 150-page book, due out Dec. 1, was ghost-written by Francis’ English-language biographer, Austen Ivereigh, and at times the prose and emphasis seems almost more Ivereigh’s than Francis.’ That's somewhat intentional — Ivereigh said Monday he hopes a more colloquial English-speaking pope will resonate with English-speaking readers and believers.At its core, “Let Us Dream” aims to outline Francis’ vision of a more economically and environmentally just post-coronavirus world where the poor, the elderly and weak aren’t left on the margins and the wealthy aren’t consumed only with profits.But it also offers new personal insights into the 83-year-old Argentine pope and his sense of humour.At one point, Francis reveals that after he offered in 2012 to retire as archbishop of Buenos Aires when he turned 75, he planned to finally finish the thesis he never completed on the 20th-century German intellectual, Romano Guardini.“But in March 2013, I was transferred to another diocese,” he deadpans. Francis was elected pope, and bishop of Rome, on March 13, 2013.The publisher said the book was the first written by a pope during a major world crisis and Ivereigh said it was done as a response to the coronavirus and the lockdown. For Francis, the pandemic offers an unprecedented opportunity to imagine and plan for a more socially just world.At times, it seems he is directing that message squarely at the United States, as Donald Trump's administration winds down four years of “America first” policies that excluded migrants from Muslim countries and diminished U.S. reliance on multilateral diplomacy. Without identifying the U.S. or Trump by name, Francis singles out Christian-majority countries where nationalist-populist leaders seek to defend Christianity from perceived enemies.“Today, listening to some of the populist leaders we now have, I am reminded of the 1930s, when some democracies collapsed into dictatorships seemingly overnight,” Francis wrote. “We see it happening again now in rallies where populist leaders excite and harangue crowds, channeling their resentments and hatreds against imagined enemies to distract from the real problems.”People fall prey to such rhetoric out of fear, not true religious conviction, he wrote. Such “superficially religious people vote for populists to protect their religious identity, unconcerned that fear and hatred of the other cannot be reconciled with the Gospel.”Francis addressed the killing of Floyd, a Black man whose death at the knee of a white policeman set off protests this year across the United States. Referring to Floyd by name, Francis said: “Abuse is a gross violation of human dignity that we cannot allow and which we must continue to struggle against.”But he warned that protests can be manipulated and decried the attempt to erase history by downing statues of U.S. Confederate leaders. A better way, he said, is to debate the past through dialogue.“Amputating history can make us lose our memory, which is one of the few remedies we have against repeating the mistakes of the past,” he wrote.Turning to the pandemic, Francis blasted people who protested anti-virus restrictions “as if measures that governments must impose for the good of their people constitute some kind of political assault on autonomy or personal freedom!”He accused some in the church and Catholic media of being part of the problem.“You’ll never find such people protesting the death of George Floyd, or joining a demonstration because there are shantytowns where children lack water or education,” he wrote. “They turned into a cultural battle what was in truth an effort to ensure the protection of life.”He praised journalists who reported on how the pandemic was affecting the poorest. But he took a broad swipe at unnamed media organizations that “used this crisis to persuade people that foreigners are to blame, that the coronavirus is little more than a little bout of flu, and that restrictions necessary for people's protection amount to an unjust demand of an interfering state."“There are politicians who peddle these narratives for their own gain," he writes. “But they could not succeed without some media creating and spreading them."In urging the world to use the pandemic as an opportunity for a reset, Francis offers “three COVID-19” moments, or personal crises of his own life, that gave him the chance to stop, think and change course.The first was the respiratory infection that nearly killed him when he was 21 and in his second year at the Buenos Aires diocesan seminary. After being saved, Francis decided to join the Jesuit religious order.“I have a sense of how people with the coronavirus feel as they struggle to breathe on ventilators,” Francis wrote.The second COVID-19 moment was when he moved to Germany in 1986 to work on his thesis and felt such loneliness and isolation he moved back to Argentina without finishing it.The third occurred during the nearly two years he spent in exile in Cordoba, northern Argentina, as penance for his authoritarian-laced reign as head of the Jesuit order in the country.“I’m sure I did a few good things, but I could be very harsh. In Cordoba, they made me pay and they were right to do so,” he wrote.But he also revealed that while in Cordoba he read a 37-volume “History of the Popes.”“Once you know that papal history, there’s not that much that goes on in the Vatican Curia and the church today that can shock you,” he wrote.Francis repeated his call for a universal basic income, for welcoming migrants and for what he calls the three L’s that everyone needs: land, lodging and labour.“We need to set goals for our business sector that — without denying its importance — look beyond shareholder value to other kinds of values that save us all: community, nature and meaningful work," he writes.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakNicole Winfield, The Associated Press
The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) is putting their season on pause following new public health measures and guidance from the province. The KIJHL provided an update on league operations following the provincial health orders issued Nov. 19 and later clarification provided by Viasport, a B.C. government non-profit sports organization, on Nov. 20. "In light of the new parameters outlined on Friday evening by Viasport, which include restrictions concerning travel between different communities, the KIJHL will pause all regular season game play beginning Saturday, Nov. 21. Under the current Provincial Health Order, competition between teams cannot resume until Monday, Dec. 8 at the earliest. Other Phase 3 activities, including team practices, may proceed so long as they adhere to all aspects of the KIJHL’s Return to Play policies," says a statement on the KIJHL website dated Nov. 21. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, the KIJHL says it has made the health and safety of athletes, staff, volunteers, billet families and fans a top priority and the league is closely observing all of the guidance and protocols outlined by the province, Viasport, Hockey Canada and BC Hockey and team’s home facilities. Teams had been sorted into "cohorts" grouped together to reduce travel and exposure to other groups. The Osoyoos Coyotes had played three games thus far this season, with a record of one win, one loss and one overtime loss, sitting at third place in the Neil Murdoch Division. "On Thursday, Dr. Bonnie Henry announced additional province-wide restrictions, and we have been working hard to clarify their impact on our league," the statement from KIJHL says. "We recognize that circumstances can change quickly, and we will update our plans as soon as new information becomes available. The KIJHL appreciates the patience and support of our fans, volunteers, billet families and sponsors as we navigate this process."Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
BROCKTON – The Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund allocation for Brockton has been decreasing over the past several years. Brockton received $2,380,000 in 2012; by 2017, that had decreased to $1,607,100. Brockton was notified that the 2021 allocation will decrease by $48,500 from 2020’s $1,536,600 to $1,488,100. The municipality relies on the OMPF grant to provide government services. Small, rural municipalities don’t have the large tax base that cities do. Coun. Steve Adams suggested drafting a letter to express concern over the decrease. Coun. Dean Leifso wondered if other municipalities in the area were getting the same decrease. Mayor Chris Peabody regarded the information as “mixed” news – both good and bad. It’s a bit of a drop. But he also noted Brockton has received a number of grants from “this government” and credited MPP Lisa Thompson for working on behalf of her constituents. Peabody said Leifso’s idea was a good one. “Let’s do some research.”Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
Here are the top stories for Monday, Nov. 23: Biden looks to Obama veterans for key staff picks; States move ahead with election certifications; GM to recall 7 million vehicles; White House Christmas Tree arrives in DC.
Yukon's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley announced six new cases of COVID-19 in the territory on Monday morning.This brings Yukon's total case count to 38, with 23 recovered and one death.In a news conference Monday morning, Hanley said that since Saturday, six additional cases have been confirmed, and that "information is literally changing by the hour.""14 confirmed cases and two additional probable cases have been identified in Yukon since November 9th," he said.On Saturday, the Yukon government confirmed three new cases of COVID-19 in the territory. Two of those cases were linked to previous ones, while another is related to out-of-territory travel, according to a news release.Five of the new cases announced on Monday are linked to a previous case while one is still under investigation. Cases 35 and 36 were being investigated Monday after the government was made aware of them on Sunday evening, Hanley said. The territory was made aware of cases 37 and 38 on Monday morning, Hanley said. "We are expecting that we will see more to come," said Hanley. He said officials are investigating how all the recent cases may be connected. "We have not yet ruled out community transmission, but at the same time we see no evidence of community transmission," said Hanley, with each of the cases seemingly linked to travel or existing clusters.The age range of cases is from under 10 years, to over 60 years old, said Hanley.Drive-thru testing now availableOn Monday, Hanley also announced that drive-thru COVID-19 testing opened on Sunday in Whitehorse, and will be available until Saturday, Nov. 28. The drive-thru is located at Centennial Motors, 91628 Alaska Highway, in the wash bay.The service will be available for one week from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m and it will be used for people with COVID-19 symptoms, "to meet the increased demand."Over the weekend, the territory also expanded a public exposure notice for a Whitehorse fitness centre. Anyone who was at Better Bodies on Nov. 16 between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. and is experiencing symptoms should call the COVID-19 testing centre in Whitehorse at 867-393-3083, or contact the health centre in their community.On Friday, the territory issued a similar exposure notice for the fitness centre for anyone who was there on Nov. 14 between 12 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Provincial police escorted the body of one of their fellow officers home from Toronto to Manitoulin Island today.The provincial police union said two OPP cruisers accompanied the hearse carrying Constable Marc Hovingh, an officer killed in the line of duty last week.The procession left a Toronto funeral home at noon and drove more than five hours to Little Current on Ontario's Manitoulin Island.Watch the procession streamed by OPP on TwitterAccording to the Special Investigations Unit, Hovingh and Gary Brohman were both killed Thursday after exchanging gunfire.Hovingh, 52, was one of the officers who responded to a call regarding an "unwanted man" on a property in Gore Bay, Ont.Ontario's police watchdog says both Hovingh and Brohman died in hospital. Autopsies for both were done in Toronto.Brohman, 60, was identified by Ontario's police watchdog, as a resident of Gore Bay.More stories from CBC Sudbury
Here’s a collection of 2020 holiday albums reviewed by The Associated Press.____________Carrie Underwood, “My Gift” (Capitol Nashville)Carrie Underwood takes fans to church with her first holiday album “The Gift,” a set of hymns and traditional Christmas classics that invoke the spiritual and religious themes of the season.Underwood’s interpretations of songs like “Silent Night” and “O Holy Night” are simply produced with lush strings, allowing her to showcase her vibrato as she soars to the top of her range. You could imagine yourself in a pew, head bowed as you listened to her sing “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee,” and all would be missing is a children’s choir and the smell of incense.But while Underwood could probably sing the Bible and sound great, the album’s more interesting tracks are original songs, including “Let There Be Peace,” a song she co-wrote where she’s backed by a choir on a rousing R&B gospel track.On one of the album’s 11 tracks, Underwood is joined on “Little Drummer Boy” by her 5-year-old son Isaiah, whose singing about “pah-wump-pah-pah-pump” and “dwums” is adorably cute, but it borders on saccharine.But the best song is her duet with John Legend on an original called “Hallelujah,” which Legend co-wrote. These two Grammy winners push each other to new and impressive heights as they raise their voices to the heavens. More of that please.— Kristin M. Hall____________Dolly Parton, “A Holly, Jolly Christmas” (Butterfly Records)Leave it to Dolly Parton to know just how to brighten up pandemic blues with a full dose of cheery holiday nostalgia.Her first Christmas album in 30 years sounds like it could have been made decades ago — even if she recorded it masked, gloved and appropriately socially distanced this past summer.Despite touches of pop culture — Jimmy Fallon and Miley Cyrus are among her duet partners — the feeling is more Sinatra and Nat King Cole.The first track, “Holly Jolly Christmas,” sets the tone with a “ding, dong, ding” choral opening, honky-tonk undertones and Dolly’s folksy banter.“All I Want for Christmas Is You” delivers a flirty duet with Fallon as the two playfully trade gushy confessions and Parton teases at the end: “Oh, you sexy boy.”Several tunes are Parton originals, including “Christmas on the Square,” also the title of her new Netflix holiday musical. It’s a delightfully hokey offering, a vision of friends and families gathering for singing, dancing, snowball fights and other nostalgic fare. That may all be off the table this holiday season, but Parton at least gives us a welcome taste.— Lindsey Tanner____________Meghan Trainor, “A Very Trainor Christmas” (Epic)Put down that eggnog and go to Spotify right now: The winner of the best Christmas album of 2020 is clearly Meghan Trainor.The 18-track “A Very Trainor Christmas” is a marvel, a multi-textured triumph led by Trainor’s warm, retro and soulful voice — perfect for a holiday album.It boasts six excellent originals alongside smart covers of such songs as “Last Christmas” by Wham! and a ukulele-led “Winter Wonderland.” Trainor has somehow infused new energy and verve to old chestnuts. Her ‘60s-meets-2020 “Sleigh Ride” is like hearing a new song and her “Silent Night” is churchlike, respectfully glorious.Trainor has her family join her for some songs — cousins and her dad — and Earth, Wind & Fire stop by to help on an old-school, propulsive funky “Holidays.” (Seth MacFarlane is the album’s only odd note, taking himself far too seriously in a version of “White Christmas”).Of the clutch of new songs, there’s the gloriously funky-EDM “I Believe in Santa,” the trop-pop “Naughty List,” the sad violin ballad “Christmas Got Me Blue” and the gleeful “Christmas Party.”America, rejoice: We just got a great early Christmas present.— Mark Kennedy____________Leslie Odom, Jr., “The Christmas Album” (S-Curve/BMG)What is one thing you can count on when a Broadway star creates a holiday album? The vocals will not disappoint.Tony and Grammy winner Leslie Odom, Jr. has delivered a vibrant melting pot of holiday classics and original songs with “The Christmas Album.”Odom’s voice lends itself well to multi-genre music, making him an ideal candidate to bring forth some holiday cheer. From his jazzy rendition of “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” to the pop-forward “Last Christmas,” his album is — simply put — easy listening.Among the traditional yuletide tunes, Odom’s personally penned songs hold their own. “Snow” is a cold weather earworm, while “Winter Song” finds Odom’s smooth falsetto complimented by Cynthia Erivo’s sultry pipes.While most of his holiday covers are close in sound to their predecessors, the “Hamilton" star brings a unique South African influence to “Little Drummer Boy” with the help of the Mzansi Youth Choir and strips down the New Year’s Eve classic “Auld Lang Syne” to create tenderness.Not exclusively limited to Christmas songs, Odom delivers a brilliant, intimate performance of “Ma’oz Tzur,” accompanied by his wife, Nicolette Robinson, and a piano.“The Christmas Album” celebrates diversity and comfort in a year when both are sorely needed.— Ragan Clark____________Jamie Cullum, “The Pianoman at Christmas” (Blue Note)The title is misleading, because Jamie Cullum is more of a big band crooner than piano player on this set of 10 tunes he wrote in lockdown this spring.The arrangements are pandemic-defying, with 57 musicians by Cullum’s count, and they make “The Pianoman at Christmas” swing and soar. Horns and string orchestra trade off and blend beautifully, providing a broad canvas for Cullum to explore a range of holiday moods.Included are two tunes each about Santa, Christmas lights and the holiday blues. There’s also a cuddle song, and the topical, timely opener “It’s Christmas,” where a merry Cullum sings, “Shove your petty differences right up the chimney, please.”All of the songs are secular. “Don’t care about a saviour,” Cullum sings on the title cut. “Just want to hold onto you.”A few lyrics could have benefited from more time in the workshop. “The Jolly Fat Man” is jazzy fun, but Cullum tries unsuccessfully to rhyme hat with dispatch and relax with back.Nonetheless, he captures the spirit of the season. More than once Cullum belts a long note, and it’s easy to visualize him, head back and arms outstretched, happy to embrace the end of this awful year.— Steven Wine____________Tori Kelly, “A Tori Kelly Christmas" (Capitol/Schoolboy)Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds is easily one of the greatest music producers and songwriters of all time. So him in the producer’s chair plus Grammy-winning vocalist Tori Kelly in the vocal booth equals STUNNING, SENSATIONAL, EXTRAORDINARY and PHENOMENAL.Kelly is a top notch performer throughout “A Tori Kelly Christmas,” which features traditional classics like “Silent Night,” “O Holy Night” and “Joy to the World,” where her vocals will instantly transport you to a church that people not only attend to praise and worship, but to also hear beautiful and exquisite music.Even the original tracks are cute and pleasant, including “Gift That Keeps on Giving” and “25th,” where Kelly sings sweet lyrics like “no more silent nights/I’ll be by your side” and “got nothing on my list/don’t you know my only wish is to hold you on the 25th?”She closes the album with an excellent and clean cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” and it is so good we’re sure Cohen is smiling from above with his approval.— Mesfin Fekadu____________Goo Goo Dolls, “It’s Christmas All Over” (Warner)It’s hard to write a Christmas song and it’s doubly hard writing about a bad kid on Christmas, but Goo Goo Dolls have done it.The rockabilly “You Ain’t Getting Nothin’” is an unexpected and super step on the band’s solid first holiday record, “It’s Christmas All Over.”“You picked Santa’s pocket/And you stole his reindeer/You’re only 8 years old/I caught you drinking beer,” frontman John Rzeznik sings about someone who should be getting coal in their stocking.It’s one of two originals — and one reworking — on a 10-track album filled with jazzy covers of iconic holiday songs such as “Let It Snow” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” The title comes from a Tom Petty tune, which is respectfully covered.The other original is “This Is Christmas,” which has that beautiful melancholy the Goo Goo Dolls are known for. It earns its right to be a holiday classic of its own.The reworked song is “Better Days,” a wistful ode to peace from the band's 2006 album “Let Love In.” Here, it has been rebuilt with a child’s voice (the daughter of Jimmy McGorman, the band’s longtime collaborator). It’s powerfully affecting — revealing strong songwriting topped by a delicate voice.— Mark Kennedy____________Keedron Bryant, “The Best Time of Year" (Warner)Passionate is Keedron Bryant’s forte.At just 12 years old, he turned heads with his fiery plea “I Just Wanna Live,” a song about being a young Black man in America. Written by his mother Johnnetta Bryant after she watched the painful death of George Floyd, the song helped Bryant inspire and connect with people around the world. It even landed him a record deal.He’s 13 now and has released a Christmas EP that features a passionate and mature vocal performance from the budding superstar.Bryant tackles Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” and adds his own wonderful spin to the song. And he and his sister, Aiyanna Bryant, are epic on their soulful version of Boyz II Men and Brian McKnight’s holiday classic, “Let It Snow.”The four-song EP closes with the original track “This Year,” an upbeat adventure promising that 2021 will be better than 2020 — a message we all need to hear, especially from the youth. After all — the children are our future.— Mesfin Fekadu____________Davy Jones, “It’s Christmas Time Once More” (Not Too Late Records)Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without reindeers, turtle doves, a partridge — and a Monkee.“It’s Christmas Time Once More,” a reimagined collection of traditional holiday songs from The Monkees’ late frontman Davy Jones, is a welcome and warm addition to the season. His gentle and expressive voice often got overshadowed by the goofy goings-on in his made-for-TV rock band. Here it is centre stage.Jones tackles songs like “Silver Bells” and “Silent Night” with English-accented aplomb. For a jazzy “White Christmas,” his voice is joined by his youngest daughter, singer-songwriter Annabel Jones, in a pretty duet that hits all the right notes.The songs have some miles on them. They were originally released in 1991 on cassette then on CD in 1997 and released again in 2005 as “Christmas Jones.” Producer Chip Douglas has given them new arrangements and added background vocals from former Monkees bandmate Micky Dolenz and his sister, Coco Dolenz. Douglas leans into rockabilly with “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and banjo with “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.”One of the two bonus tracks is an original recording of Jones singing “White Christmas” with Douglas on guitar, recorded in 1967 in Douglas’ home in L.A.’s famed Laurel Canyon. It is wistful and blissed out.— Mark KennedyAssociated Press, The Associated Press
B.C. health officials have confirmed another 1,933 cases of COVID-19 over the last three days, a weekend which also saw 17 more people die of the disease.The number of patients in hospital with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus is at 277, another new high, with 59 people in intensive care. There are now 7,360 active cases of the virus across B.C.Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry became emotional during Monday's briefing, as she addressed the growing spread of the virus in long-term care and assisted living, saying the majority of those who died this weekend were seniors and elders living in long-term care.She said it is urgent for everyone to do their part to reduce their social interactions and get the spread of this virus under control, but also offered reassurance that health officials and members of the public. have the tools and the knowledge to do that."I say this to fuel that fire of determination and resilience that I have seen in people across this province," Henry said.Monday's update included six new outbreaks in the health-care system. There are now 54 active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living and six in acute care units of hospitals. The majority of the new cases announced Monday — about 89 per cent — continue to be in the regions covered by Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health.To date, 27,407 people in B.C. have had confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 348 people have died. There are now 10,200 people in isolation and under active monitoring by public health workers because of exposure to the disease.'The next leg is not in sight'The weekend was the first in B.C. under a long list of public health orders and recommendations that came into effect on Thursday.The orders, which include mandatory masks in indoor public spaces and social gatherings that are restricted to members of the same household, will be in effect until at least Dec. 7. All indoor and outdoor events of any size have been suspended — that means popular events like the Stanley Park Christmas Train and VanDusen Botanical Garden's Festival of Lights in Vancouver have been put on hold.Henry clarified Monday that despite some confusion over the weekend, movie theatres must also close for now.Initially, stricter orders to slow the spread of COVID-19 only included the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions, which were seeing a disproportionate spike in case numbers.Monday marks 16 days since Henry enacted those first regional orders. It takes at least 14 days, the incubation period for COVID-19, to be able to determine whether those measures are working.During Monday's briefing, Henry compared the pandemic to an Iron Man triathlon competition, with "three different, strenuous legs."We got through the swim — just barely. And now we're on the bike ride and we've got some big hills to climb ahead of us," she said."Right now, we have a distance to go. The next leg is not in sight."The final leg of this pandemic will only come when a vaccine is available, Henry explained.New measures and restrictionsSocial gatherings in B.C. are now restricted to household members only. That means no one should be meeting for social reasons with anyone outside of their immediate household, although a physically distanced walk with a friend or arranging for grandparents to pick up the kids from school is still acceptable.People who live alone can create a small exclusive "bubble" with one or two others, Henry has said.Health Minister Adrian Dix said Monday that there can be no bartering or compromise when it comes to the orders that are currently in place."We cannot negotiate with the virus. We can't deal with it that way — there's no litigation to be had," he said.In response to questions about how much notice event organizers might receive about when they're able to reschedule because the current orders are being lifted, Henry said she didn't have an answer."Things we were able to do in the summer — we had a buffer, we had the weather on our side. We can't get away with that anymore. We will see if that is going to make a difference over the next coming weeks," she said.The new mandatory mask mandate is a requirement for workers and members of the public to wear face coverings in all retail environments, restaurants and indoor public spaces, including common areas of workplaces, except when eating or drinking.The order for mandatory masks does not include schools.Henry said Monday that schools aren't public places where strangers can come and go at will. Instead, the same people are spending time together every day.However she said that masks are encouraged within school environments, particularly for adults.
Wheatland County’s finances have been impacted in different ways by the COVID-19 pandemic. During the regular county council meeting on Nov. 10, the county’s third quarter unaudited financial statements were presented by Matthew Kurceba, manager of financial services. Figures were presented as of Sept. 30 and compared to values one year prior (Sept. 30, 2019). Regarding the county’s financial assets, the county’s cash position is on par with last year, measured one month after the county’s 2020 tax deadline of Aug. 31. However, taxes and grants in place of taxes receivable (outstanding municipal taxes) is higher as of September 2020 (about $9.7 million) compared to that of last year (about $7.2 million). This increase is mainly due to the economic impact of COVID-19 on county ratepayers, said Kurceba. Accounts payable has increased, from about $11.9 million to about $13 million, representing the amount of remaining education requisition payments and gravel pit repayments. The amount increased from last year due to education requisition payments being higher, due to taxes for non-residential properties from June and September 2020 being deferred until December 2020. Total operating expenses are lower than last year by $4 million. This decrease is due to measures taken by the county to decrease expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Kurceba. A major factor in this was staff reductions, resulting in a reduced total salary figure and less overtime generated. But there were some other reasons why the pandemic reduced county expenses, explained CAO Brian Henderson. Training costs were lower, with many courses either not offered or deferred, he said. Additionally, fuel costs were lower, due to lower-than-expected diesel and gasoline prices.Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
he recent spill in Lake Manitouwabing has been identified by the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. The agency stated that the spill has been determined to be fuel oil/furnace oil. Cleanup of the spill is being led by the Township of McKellar, its consultant and a local cleanup contractor according to Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks supervisor Chris Mahon. “The material leaking has been identified as furnace oil,” wrote Mahon in an email to this newspaper. “The oil was leaking from a nearby home.” On Nov. 13, the township notified residents that a substance was discovered coming out of a culvert near Patterson Lane and Lakeshore Drive. The leak was contained promptly by Adams Bros. Construction, according to the township. As for any long-lasting effects the spill could have on Lake Manitouwabing, Mahon said the ministry did not anticipate any impact. “A small sheen on the lake has dissipated,” he said. “A local environmental cleanup company deployed absorbent booms and absorbent material to contain, recover the (oil).” Asked about the risk of any further incidents, Mahon replied that any tank has the potential to leak if not properly maintained. “We like to remind residents that they should inspect their home heating fuel tanks on a regular basis to prevent leaks,” he said. The Township of McKellar issued a release on Nov. 19 saying that the spill continued to be contained and that there didn’t appear to be any major concerns about water usage in Lake Manitouwabing. “To be cautious, those along Lakeshore to the government dock are advised not to use lake water until the booms are removed,” the release states, adding that additional booms have been installed and are containing the spill to that area. According to McKellar Mayor Peter Hopkins, there hasn’t been an incident like this in Lake Manitouwabing in his 10 years as head of council. “We had a thing at the Ridge that looked like a spill, but it turned out to be red mud,” he said. “So, not to my knowledge.” The leak from the tank has been stopped, but the cleanup of the culvert is still in progress. “There’s no threat to public health,” Hopkins said. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com