CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela has pardoned more than 50 opposition politicians and legislators in the run-up to parliamentary elections, Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said on Monday.
(Reporting by Caracas newsroom)
CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela has pardoned more than 50 opposition politicians and legislators in the run-up to parliamentary elections, Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said on Monday.
(Reporting by Caracas newsroom)
Two years ago, Bill Wilson made the decision to move back to Toronto from London, Ont. He'd lost his wife and his daughter within the span of just a few months, and his son, Rod, had a home in the city."I had nobody there left, and my health was to the point that I thought I'd better make a move. I don't want my son travelling all the way to London to see me in the hospital or anything," said Wilson, who was 89 at the time."So I phoned [Rod] up and I said, 'Rod, I think it's time I came home.' And he said, 'OK, it's about time.'"Wilson moved into a two-floor coach house in the backyard of his son's property. But within a year, he was forced to leave."The city said, 'You can't have a separate living space on your property unless it's … backing onto a public laneway," said Rod Wilson.In 2018, the city amended its zoning bylaw to allow for laneway suites — detached homes that back onto a laneway. But under current rules, coach houses — also known as garden suites or backyard houses — are not legally permitted for residential use in Toronto. In a city that's in dire need of more rental housing stock —with low vacancy rates and ballooning prices — advocates say it's time Toronto allowed coach houses like Wilson's for residential use.In July, the city passed a motion to expand housing options in the city. While coach houses are included in its list, it's unclear how long the consultation process will take and whether there will be enough support to move ahead to formally allow residential coach houses in Toronto.'It was just perfect'Rod Wilson bought the property on Kingston Road near Woodbine Avenue in 1998, and has since rented out the coach house in the backyard to artists and musicians.Prior to his father moving in, he said he'd made small modifications to the coach house, but it already had electricity, water, a bathroom and a kitchenette before he bought the property. Wilson said a survey traces the coach house back to the 1920s. He believes it was once used as a barn for the adjacent home. It's now a two-floor, one-bathroom unit with a kitchen."It's not something that I threw up — a little 12-by-12 shed and put a plug in there with a hot plate and a kettle. It's an actual living space," said Wilson, who moved his father in the fall of 2018.Describing the moment he first saw it, Bill Wilson said, "He opened the door and he said, 'This is yours.' And I just took a look and just fell in love with it. It was just just perfect."Rod Wilson said a complaint from a new neighbour — who had bought an adjacent property — prompted a visit from a city inspector, who informed Wilson that under the city's rules, his coach house couldn't be used for residential purposes. Wilson said it was the first he'd heard of that."Because it had been here for so long, I thought it would have been grandfathered in as an existing building that has been here," said Wilson.Wilson then set out to try to modify the space to make it legal. He said he worked with a drafting company and a lawyer and took the matter to the city. He said he was told the matter had to go to the Committee of Adjustment, but his application was denied at a September 2019 meeting. "We had 23 letters of support from surrounding neighbours. And one of the gentlemen on the committee said, 'It wouldn't matter if you had the support of the whole city. It's still illegal,'" said Wilson.City's stanceSo why aren't coach houses permitted as residential living spaces in Toronto? According to the city's chief planner, though they exist throughout the city, they were never included in formal zoning laws."The post-war city — the inner suburbs of the city, parts of Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough — they grew up around the concept of one building, one lot," said Gregg Lintern."Those kinds of rules were put in place in the zoning bylaw over a long period of time."Lintern said approximately 10 years ago, the issue was brought before council, but said there wasn't an appetite for change within neighbourhoods, and there were outstanding questions about infrastructure and safety.But things have changed since then — most notably, the housing market. Last month, city council passed a motion to explore opportunities for new housing options in the city.The motion stems from the idea of the "missing middle" — that is, the lack of housing that falls somewhere between large detached houses and small high-rise condos in the city."The first priority actually is to look at garden suites or coach houses," said Lintern.Evolving city needsOther cities have moved more quickly."Windsor already allows it, Hamilton, Ottawa. They're way ahead of Toronto in this respect, and I hope we can catch up to them soon," said Sean Galbraith, an urban planner.Galbraith welcomes the city's plan to look at exploring more housing options like coach houses. He believes over time, it could have an impact on rental stock.He noted the advantage of coach houses in that you can tap into existing spaces rather than finding new ones."I think coach houses could have a fairly significant impact in the availability of housing across the city," he said. "If only because there are a lot of lots that have large backyards big enough to hold … a small detached cottage. And far in excess of, for example, the laneway suites program, where there are only so many lanes," he said."We need more rental housing ... We need as much of it as we can get in as many forms and types as we can get."Coun. Brad Bradford — who represents Ward 19, Beaches-East York, where Wilson's property is located — said in a city that's in a housing crisis, every option counts."I'm pushing for coach houses to be allowed — with the right conditions — just like the debate we had with laneway houses a few years ago, too," he said."I feel for everything [Rod Wilson] and his father have gone through on this issue," Bradford said. "It's the kind of situation which nobody wants to be in, caught in the space between doing something very benign and the rules simply not being in place to make it possible."Coach house to basementRod Wilson's father, who is now 91, moved into the basement of the house on the property after his son was forced to evict his tenant of 17 years.Bill Wilson said though he's happy to have a home, it's just not the same as the space he fell in love with upon arrival."I just take every day as it comes, accept things the way they are, not the way I would like to have them," he said.His son hopes the city moves more quickly to allow properties like his to be permitted as housing options."The city is begging for housing. And here they are shutting us down."
WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court in Washington declined Monday to order the dismissal of the Michael Flynn prosecution, permitting a judge to scrutinize the Justice Department's request to dismiss its case against President Donald Trump's former national security adviser.The decision keeps the matter at least temporarily alive and rebuffs efforts by both Flynn's lawyers and the Justice Department to force the prosecution to be dropped without any further inquiry from the judge, who has for months declined to dismiss it. The ruling represents the latest development in a criminal case that has taken unusual twists and turns over the last year and prompted a separation of powers clash between a veteran federal judge and the Trump administration.The conflict arose in May when the Justice Department moved to dismiss the prosecution despite Flynn's own guilty plea to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition period. But U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, signalling his skepticism at the government's unusual motion, refused to immediately grant the request and instead appointed a retired federal judge to argue against the Justice Department's position.His lawyers then sought to bypass Sullivan and obtain a order from the federal appeals court that would have required the judge to immediately force the judge to dismiss the case.At issue before the court was whether Sullivan could be forced to grant the Justice Department's dismissal request without even holding a hearing to scrutinize the basis for the motion.“We have no trouble answering that question in the negative,” the court wrote in an unsigned opinion for the eight judges in the majority.In a concurring opinion, U.S. District Judge Thomas Griffith wrote that the court's opinion did not involve the merits of the Justice Department's prosecution of Flynn or its decision to abandon the case. Rather, he said the question was a much more simple one.“Today we reach the unexceptional yet important conclusion that a court of appeals should stay its hand and allow the district court to finish its work rather than hear a challenge to a decision not yet made,” Griffith said. “That is a policy the federal courts have followed since the beginning of the Republic.”He said it was very possible that Sullivan could wind up granting the Justice Department's dismissal request and that it would be “highly unusual if it did not, given the Executive’s constitutional prerogative to direct and control prosecutions and the district court’s limited discretion” in cases that prosecutors want dropped.Two judges, Neomi Rao and Karen LeCraft Henderson, each wrote dissenting opinions arguing that Sullivan had overstepped his bounds by keeping alive a case that the Justice Department sought to have dismissed.The Flynn prosecution was a signature criminal case in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into ties between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia. Flynn was the only person charged in the Mueller investigation who had served in the White House and he agreed months into the investigation to co-operate with the authorities in hopes of receiving a lighter sentence.He was questioned by the FBI at the White House, just days after Trump's inauguration, about his conversations with the then-Russian ambassador to the U.S. pertaining to sanctions that had just been imposed by the Obama administration for election interference. The conversation alarmed law enforcement and intelligence officials who were already investigating whether the Trump campaign had co-ordinated with Russia to sway the presidential election in Trump's favour. They were puzzled by the White House's public insistence that Flynn and the diplomat had not discussed sanctions.But the Justice Department argued in May that the FBI had insufficient basis to interrogate Flynn about that conversation, which Attorney General William Barr has described as fully appropriate for an incoming national security adviser to have had.____Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAPEric Tucker, The Associated Press
The College of Pharmacists of British Columbia has fined a pharmacist in Salmon Arm $25,000 for reselling pharmacy supplies and prescription medications stolen by a hospital employee. According to the complaint outcome, an investigation found that Laurent Pierre Roy was likely aware of the "diverted nature" of the supplies, which he had been purchasing from at least 2011 until 2018. The college has suspended Roy for a year starting Aug. 24. It has also ordered that he not work as a pharmacy manager, director or officer for a period of three years, and to not supervise pharmacy students for the same amount of time. Roy will also have to complete an ethics course.The complaint outcome says the inquiry committee determined that Roy's actions were likely based on financial gain, and indicated poor judgment. "His actions were a serious contravention of standards in the Code of Ethics and compromised the public's trust in the pharmacy profession," the college said in the outcome.Interior Health lawsuitThe complaint outcome doesn't name the hospital employee, but the Interior Health Authority names him as Ian Petterson in a statement of claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court in June. The statement says Petterson worked for Interior Health from 1994 to 2018, with some or all of that time spent working at Shuswap Lake General Hospital. Interior Health alleges that, starting in at least 2004, Petterson started "wrongfully manipulating pharmacy transactions" and sold them to Salmon Arm Remedy's RX. The statement names Roy as the owner of the company that owned the pharmacy. The allegations against Petterson include: * Removing medication from the hospital pharmacy inventory and selling it to Remedy's for cash, which he kept. * Manipulating transactions in the hospital pharmacy inventory, concealing invoices for Remedy's. * Personally delivering the misappropriated medication to Remedy's and Roy. Interior Health's allegations against Roy include: * Ordering medication from Petterson directly instead of through the Interior Health purchasing system. * Buying medication from Petterson at below-market prices and paying him in cash. * Manipulating Remedy's inventory system to conceal that medication.According to the statement, the arrangement was first detected by a Remedy's employee who saw a bag of cash labelled "SLGH $500." Interior Health was notified and Petterson was fired in 2018 after an internal investigation.Interior Health is seeking relief for general and special damages, as well as costs. Petterson and Roy have yet to file a counterclaim. The allegations have not been proven in court.
Fans of Vancouver-born Arthur Erickson say they're concerned about the recent sale of what is said to be the first personal residence the award-winning modernist architect designed in 1959. The Filbert House, named after the son of the logging baron it was built for, was listed in early August and sold last week for nearly $2.75 million. This is the second time Realtor Marc Villanueva has sold the house, which is perched on the highest point in Comox, B.C., on Vancouver Island. Villanueva says the owners, a couple from Calgary, appreciated the historical value of the home but they wanted to upgrade to a larger place."When it was designed and built, it was for a single fellow, and it was a bachelor pad," he said. Although the listings says the home has four bedrooms and three bathrooms, Villanueva says that's because of an additional building that was constructed as a medical clinic for the doctor who owned it at the time.The main house, he says, has one bedroom and a small den. It's main purpose was for entertaining and taking in the sweeping vistas from the bluff it sits on.Villanueva says the house was sold to a couple from Victoria. Architectural photographer Simon Scott, who is also a board member of the Arthur Erickson Foundation, worries what will happen to it now. Scott says the property, once named "Canada's most fabulous house" in a 1961 issue of Canadian Homes, should be preserved as is. "It must be saved," he said. "It's a jewel in Canada." Scott, a longtime friend of Erickson's, says he got to see the house shortly after it was built. He also had the misfortune of seeing it after one of the owners renovated. The house was covered in pink stucco. "It was atrocious," he said. "I was just disgraceful. Totally, totally disgraceful." Realtor Villanueva also recalls that period in the home's history. He says the house was "cannibalized."A neighbour, Doug Field, eventually bought the home and restored it. Villanueva says the house does need a few upgrades to usher it into current times. The electrical and plumbing systems need to be upgraded, he says, and new owners would likely want to upgrade the small bathroom and kitchen.For Scott, the idea that such a historic piece of architecture would be altered at all is blasphemy. He says the Town of Comox doesn't have any heritage designations as part of its bylaws, so it's possible the house could be changed beyond recognition."It should be with architectural people who can decide who is best to have it," he said. "I would love to see the city of Comox take it over and have it as a centre."
Abbotsford police have returned a high-profile case of alleged officer misconduct to the RCMP asking for further investigation, in what B.C.'s former solicitor general calls an unusual and concerning move.In June, surveillance video emerged of Kelowna RCMP Const. Lacy Browning dragging Mona Wang down a hallway, and then stepping on the UBC Okanagan nursing student's head.The officer was responding to a wellness check at Wang's apartment from January 2020.Browning was placed on desk duty, and the Kelowna RCMP began a criminal investigation into her actions.The results of that investigation were sent to Abbotsford police for an external review, including any recommendations for criminal prosecution. But now, the RCMP tells CBC News: "The matter has been reviewed and returned to the RCMP with further investigation required.""We are conducting the necessary follow-up," said Sgt. Janelle Shoihet, a senior media relations officer with the RCMP. "It is important that any reviews be thorough and complete and as such will take variable amounts of time." 'I have no confidence'Former B.C. solicitor general Kash Heed says it is highly unusual for an independent review to be handed back to investigators. "It is concerning. That is concerning," he said."I have no confidence in what is happening here. It appears the Abbotsford police have identified some flaws in the investigation and have given it back to the RCMP to do. It should be pulled out of their hands." Heed, who also served as the chief superintendent of West Vancouver police and was the first Indo-Canadian chief of police in Canada, says B.C.'s civilian Independent Investigations Office needs to be empowered. "The IIO should have a mandate to investigate all criminal conduct or alleged criminal conduct against a service police officer here in British Columbia," Heed said. The IIO can only investigate cases of serious harm or death. Mona Wang has filed a civil case against the RCMP. That case is still before the courts. The RCMP's Shoihet says there is no deadline to complete the review of the case."I have no diary date with respect to when this will be completed."Abbotsford police declined to comment on the review.RCMP have also launched an internal code of conduct investigation into Const. Browning's conduct.
An altercation at a Toronto event for Black-owned businesses left seven officers injured — including four who were sent to hospital with minor injuries, police say.
Czech Senate speaker Milos Vystrcil will "pay a heavy price" for making an official trip to Taiwan, the Chinese government's top diplomat said on Monday, prompting Prague to summon China's ambassador to explain comments it said "crossed the line". Vystrcil arrived in Taipei on Sunday on a visit to promote business links with Taiwan, and said the Czech Republic would not bow to Beijing's objections. China considers Taiwan a breakaway province ineligible for state-to-state relations.
Angie Kirton lost her nephew to fentanyl overdose four years ago. Instead of hiding her grief, the Kamloops, B.C., resident decided to put up several displays in her front yard and tie purple ribbons on her bushes, in order to open up a conversation with neighbours about drug addiction. "Good people take drugs, drugs take good people," reads one of the displays. That's the key message of Kirton's Purple Ribbon Campaign leading up to International Overdose Awareness Day on Aug. 31.According to the latest report by the BC Coroners Service, Interior Health records the second-lowest number of drug toxicity deaths among the five B.C. regional health authorities. But Kamloops has the fifth-highest number of cases among the province's major communities this year. The southern Interior municipality was ranked the same in 2016.Construction worker Tyler Laybolt was found dead of overdose in a Kamloops hotel on Nov. 6, 2016. Kirton still remembers the day she learned about the loss of her 23-year-old nephew, the only child of her sister. Kirton was having dinner with her extended family in Alberta."My sister's phone rang. And my sister screamed and she handed the phone to me and she fell." The whole family drove back to Kamloops that night to see the young man's body in the morgue.Laybolt was a rapper after work hours and signed a record deal just a week before his death. He is survived by his now eight-year-old son Jacob."He was an amazing dad, and he's an amazing nephew and cousin and son," says Kirton. "He would do anything for anybody. He was so funny, so smart, so talented."Thursday evening, Kirton and her extended family joined other people who lost their loved ones to drug overdose in downtown Kamloops, tying purple ribbons on light posts and other public facilities along the bustling Victoria Street as part of the Purple Ribbon Campaign.Kirton envisions this campaign as an opportunity for the whole community to talk about drug addiction issues. She wants community members to understand that drug users who died of overdose are not bad people.By putting up the "good people take drugs" display on the lawn of her house in Kamloops' Westsyde neighbourhood, Kirton also wants to tell her neigbours that she's willing to talk to about drug toxicity.Last week, her display caught the attention of an older woman who was walking her dog, opening up a long overdue dialogue."She said: 'I have a brother who died, and I've never been able to tell anybody why he died because of the shame,' " said Kirton.Kirton will keep her display in the front yard until Nov. 7.
TORONTO — Police north of Toronto are telling drivers to expect heavy traffic after a small aircraft landed on Highway 404.Police say the pilot and passengers are out of the plane and sustained no injuries from the incident.It's unclear at this time why the plane made the unusual touchdown, but the Transportation Safety Board of Canada says it has deployed a team to investigate.Police say the plane is on the east side of Highway 404 at 16th Avenue, just north of Buttonville Airport in Markham, Ont.Images from a traffic camera near the area showed police vehicles surrounding what appeared to be a plane parked beside the highway.York police say they anticipate delays as motorists slow down to gaze at the unexpected sight.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
Three people were killed and several others were injured on Monday in two separate explosions in the United Arab Emirates' capital Abu Dhabi and its tourism hub Dubai, the police and local media said. The Abu Dhabi government media office said two people were killed in the blast in the capital, which the National daily reported had hit the KFC and Hardees restaurants on the city's Rashid bin Saeed Street. The street is also known as a main road to the airport, where top aides to U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are expected to land later on Monday, in a historic trip between Israel and another Arab country.
A popular Tokyo amusement park on Monday closed its doors for the last time after being in business for more than nine decades, with part of the site set to make way for a "Harry Potter" theme park. Toshimaen amusement park, which opened in 1926 in northern Tokyo, caught the imagination of locals such as Junko and Hikari Abe, a mother and daughter who work at the park and met their partners there. Junko, a 62-year-old park keeper who has worked intermittently at Toshimaen since the 1970s, said she had assumed it would be there till the end of her life.
A proposed class-action lawsuit has been launched against the federal government on behalf of Canadians who applied online for COVID-19 emergency aid — only to have their personal and financial information stolen by hackers.The lawsuit alleges that a series of "failings" by the government and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) allowed at least three cyberattacks between mid-March and mid-August, but the public wasn't alerted until CBC News broke the story on Aug. 15.The Treasury Board and the CRA held a news briefing to confirm the security breaches Aug. 17.The proposed class proceeding claims the delayed detection of the hacks caused the number of victims to balloon to at least 14,500."The actions of the [CRA] are reprehensible," states the claim, "and showed a callous disregard for the rights of [victims]." It alleges the agency's conduct was "a deliberate ... departure from ordinary standards of decent behaviour, and as such merits punishment."The CRA has blamed "a vulnerability in security software" for the online breaches, and has said it wasn't aware of the first cyberattack until Aug. 7.The agency and the federal government have yet to file a legal response.CERB, CESB benefits 'implemented hastily'Most of the victims of the security breaches were applying for financial assistance under the Canadian Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB) or the Canadian Emergency Student Benefit (CESB). Both programs pay recipients up to $2,000 a month.The legal action alleges the CERB and CESB were "implemented hastily," without adequate security measures.As a result, it claims hackers were able to steal the personal information of applicants — including social insurance numbers, home addresses, bank account details and tax information — and use the stolen data to impersonate victims, change addresses and direct deposit information and file fraudulent claims under the emergency programs.The lawsuit alleges the victims have been hit with a double whammy: their aid applications have been frozen while the breaches are investigated, causing financial strain, plus they will have to guard against identity theft for the rest of their lives.'Stressed out and anxious'Three lead plaintiffs in the case, representing all affected Canadians, say they now live in fear their stolen data could be used for years by cyber criminals."I'm definitely stressed out and anxious because I don't know who has my information and I don't know who can get a copy of my information," said Ally Scott, who had applied for the student benefit."I am only 19 years old. I'm worried that I'm going to have to combat this issue for the rest of my life. And that seems pretty daunting."'Somebody, somewhere has gotten $4,000'Another plaintiff, a police dispatcher in Windsor, Ont., wasn't even eligible to receive emergency funds as an essential worker, but had her identify stolen and used to obtain benefits for two months."Somebody, somewhere, has gotten $4,000 of payments and I don't want that to be attached to my social insurance number, because I didn't apply for it. I don't qualify," said Anne Campeau, 52.Campeau said she felt compelled to step forward and represent herself and other victims."I believe [the CRA] dropped the ball when they came to dealing with it," she said. "Sometimes you just gotta do something like this [proposed lawsuit] to get their attention. It's not right."Compensation sought for all victimsThe proposed class proceeding, filed Aug. 24 in Federal Court in Vancouver, blames the government and CRA for negligence and breach of privacy.If given approval to proceed, the lawsuit will pursue financial compensation for all victims to cover damage to credit ratings, the ongoing cost of credit monitoring and for mental distress, stress and anxiety.No date has been set for a hearing, and none of the allegations have been proven in court.Receiving certification for a class-action lawsuit can take months or years. CBC Vancouver's Impact Team investigates and reports on stories that impact people in their local community and strives to hold individuals, institutions and organizations to account. If you have a story for us, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Apple jumped over 4% and Tesla rallied 10%, elevating the electric car maker's market capitalization to over $440 billion, making it more valuable than companies including Walmart and Johnson & Johnson . Apple split its stock 4-for-1, while Tesla split its stock 5-for-1, with both companies saying they aimed to make their shares more affordable to individual investors.
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government has signed agreements with two more American suppliers to reserve millions of doses of their experimental COVID-19 vaccines for Canadians.Deals are now in place for Canada to get access to vaccines being tested by both Johnson & Johnson and Novavax. Earlier this month Ottawa signed similar deals with Pfizer and Moderna."Their most recent vaccine tests show promising results," said Trudeau. "That's why we're making sure that if one of these potential vaccines is successful, Canada and Canadians will have access to the doses they need."The vaccines are still in either Phase 2 or 3 clinical trials and won't be purchased unless they are deemed safe and effective by Health Canada.Trudeau says all told Canada could get access to at least 88 million doses of vaccines. Some vaccines will require more than one dose to be effective.The agreement with Novavax, a Maryland-based biotech company, is for up to 76 million doses of its vaccine, which is in Phase 2 clinical trials in the United States and Australia right now. That means it's being tested for safety and efficacy in a fairly small number of people. The earliest date that vaccine might be ready for widespread use is next spring.The agreement with Johnson & Johnson is for up to 38 million doses. A Phase 1 and 2 trial of that vaccine is underway in the U.S. and Belgium.The government says some of the doses of whatever vaccine is approved may be produced at a new biomanufacturing facility at the Human Health Therapeutics Research Centre in Montreal. The new facility is intended to produce up to two million doses of vaccine a month by the end of next summer.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 31, 2020.Mia Rabson, The Canadian PressNote to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version misspelled the name of pharmaceutical company Novavax.
Like many curlers in Saskatchewan, Ashley Howard can't wait to get back on the ice after the season was cut short in March because of the pandemic."It's been awful. I still remember throwing my last rocks in March," Howard, who is executive director of CurlSask, told Saskatchewan Morning host Peter Mills.She and her fiancé were on vacation in Ontario throwing rocks in the small town of Midland."The ice maker came out and said to us, 'The women's worlds have been cancelled.'"And I said to my fiancé, we better keep throwing because we just might not have this opportunity to throw again. And it was true. By the time we got home to Saskatchewan, our rinks had shut down, our events were cancelled." Time to prepare for fallBut now CurlSask has a plan in place for curling clubs to reopen this fall."Looking back, and comparing ourselves to other sports, we've really been almost fortunate in the timing," Howard said. "We lost a little bit of the end of our season, but we've had this entire off season to get ready to think about our game and think about our return."The Sutherland Curling Club in Saskatoon will open first in September and will be used as a test site."They're going to be our high performance centre," Howard said. "We have the opportunity to send our teams and learn from those experiences of our competitive teams or those local to Saskatoon and see how curling works in the real world."They will start with a few mini competitions to work out all of the COVID-19 protocols and make sure other clubs can open in a safe manner.The guidelines will include physical distancing, contact tracing in the event of an outbreak, implementing safety measures and enhanced cleaning protocols. CurlSask will also follow the gathering size guidelines recommended by the Saskatchewan Health Authority for the duration of the 2020-2021 season."We can practice our cleaning protocols. And then from there ... we can share our best practices with other clubs and we'll go through the learning curve so all of our local or smaller rinks don't have to do that themselves."Backbone of many communitiesHoward said curling rinks are the backbone of many Saskatchewan communities and need to be able to reopen safely."We need to find a way that you'll be successful and sustainable for a long time," she said."These are small, not-for-profit businesses. They are the cornerstone of your community. So if you're able continue to donate your time, maybe even donate cleaning supplies or help out financially or volunteer your time, just continue to be a part of curling clubs and make sure that their success is sustained for a number of years."Because of the risk of international or even inter-provincial travel, Howard said they are focusing on encouraging in-province types of competition.Those events won't be large, but she said it is important to have those opportunities and continue to support the growth of competitive curlers. Howard said they did a survey with their members and 90 per cent of the respondents said they were willing to come back and curl this eason.And she said with many other activities being cancelled, there is an opportunity for curling to grow."Snowbirds might not be heading south and maybe they'll continue to curl a little bit longer. Those families that have had cancellations in their activities for the past five months might be looking to get back into the sport again," she said."Or even university students that are staying at home in their small town, doing their courses online as opposed to going into the city. They might have a little bit of extra time to curl and support the local rinks as well. So you know, we're really hoping for a strong season and welcoming even new members into our curling community."
VANCOUVER — Marine mammal rescue groups and federal fisheries officials are not sure how much fishing gear three entangled humpback whales seen in the waters off the coast of British Columbia are still carrying, leaving experts worried.Three humpback whales were found entangled in fishing gear in the last week of July and while rescue groups along with federal officials have managed to get some gear off of one of the animals, they are not sure how the other two are faring, said Paul Cottrell, the Pacific marine mammals co-ordinator for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans."We're not fearing the worst, we're hoping for the best, I guess. We're just hoping that the animals get re-sighted and that we can find them. That's what we're hoping for."The rescuers were out on the eastern side of Vancouver Island last week where one of the whales named Checkmate has been seen hanging around, Cottrell said.The whale has a trap and line running through its mouth and is trailing other gear. Rescuers also realized that someone had cut off the buoy making it difficult to spot the animal."Unfortunately (the gear) is quite close to the body," he said, explaining that it makes it difficult to see.They are hoping to use drones to confirm how much fishing gear it is carrying when they spot the humpback, he said.For now, the animal has been "acting like a normal humpback" and been seen swimming and feeding, which Cottrell said is a good sign.However, Joe Gaydos said when the gear goes through the mouth and baleen, which is the whale's filtering teeth, then it is less likely to shed it off without help."The fact that the gear goes through the mouth doesn't give me a lot of hope the gear will just come off on its own," said the science director for the SeaDoc Society from the University of California, Davis."Those poor entangled whales. I'm not optimistic this will turn out well. Honestly, it makes me sad to think about."Humpbacks are classified as special concern under the Species at Risk Act. They number about 18,000 according to the Fisheries and Oceans Canada website.Cottrell said rescuers haven't spotted a whale that has a net over its head for about three weeks.That animal, which has not yet been named, was last seen in the Central Coast, which Cottrell said is a large body of water with few boaters. He said that makes it even harder to know the condition of the animal.Once the animal is seen and photographed, experts can assess how much gear is left and what the state of entanglement is, he said.The key to helping these animals get free is locating them, Cottrell said.If rescuers are called as soon as the animal is seen they can get there quickly and assess the situation, he said."If it's even a couple hours later those animals can travel vast distances in a short amount of time."Gaydos said large whales like these can trail gear for a long time, leading to a slow and painful demise.Occasionally they can shed it but at other times the first set of gear can attach to more, causing the animal to drag several metres of net and line, he added.Martin Haulena, head veterinarian at the Ocean Wise Marine Mammal Centre and the Vancouver Aquarium, said if animals are unable to forage with gear restricting either the mouth or impairing ability to dive and swim, then they will starve to death."Some gear starts to cut into the tail, flippers or mouth. That is really painful," he said."If it introduces bacteria or fungus into the bone or bloodstream that can cause a serious infection and that can also kill the animal. If there is a lot of gear, then the animal can drown. Unfortunately, all of these are horrible ways for a whale to die."The rescuers were able to get off more than 60 metres of fishing gear of a whale named X-ray.Cottrell said that humpback was last seen travelling north along the east coast of Vancouver Island more than three weeks ago and rescuers are cautiously optimistic that it has been able to slip out of the rest of the gear.Haulena said once the gear is on, it is very difficult for the animals to remove it although if the responders were lucky and cut just the right bit, the animal can slip off from the entanglement."Experienced people know where the best cuts can be made."Gaydos said with more fishing gear and a growing whale population, entanglements are not going away unless something is done."Scientists are working with the fishing community to help redesign the way the gear is set up. I'm hopeful this will help," he said."In the meantime, we need to keep disentangling animals."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 30, 2020.Hina Alam, The Canadian Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 2:14 p.m. EDT on Aug. 31, 2020:There are 128,082 confirmed cases in Canada._ Quebec: 62,352 confirmed (including 5,758 deaths, 55,300 resolved)_ Ontario: 42,309 confirmed (including 2,811 deaths, 38,277 resolved)_ Alberta: 13,476 confirmed (including 237 deaths, 12,054 resolved)_ British Columbia: 5,496 confirmed (including 204 deaths, 4,310 resolved)_ Saskatchewan: 1,615 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,549 resolved)_ Manitoba: 1,214 confirmed (including 14 deaths, 731 resolved)_ Nova Scotia: 1,083 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,013 resolved)_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 269 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 265 resolved)_ New Brunswick: 191 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 185 resolved)_ Prince Edward Island: 44 confirmed (including 41 resolved)_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases_ Total: 128,082 (0 presumptive, 128,082 confirmed including 9,118 deaths, 113,758 resolved)This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 31, 2020.The Canadian Press
When Jackie Greenham's brother suffered a heart attack on July 21, he needed far more complex treatment than the family could find in Labrador City."He was in a bad way. He was critical," Greenham recalls. "We didn't know if he was going to make it or not. His heart had stopped twice. So we were really, really counting on the air ambulance to come in and get him out to St. John's."Greenham says the attending doctor ordered the ambulance that evening, hoping for a rapid medical evacuation to save his life. It would be nearly 24 hours before an aircraft arrived."They didn't show up that night," Greenham said. "We learned that there were two flights on the ground, and no pilot for either flight."Other Labrador residents echo Greenham's experience with the province's air ambulance service, which they say has left them dissatisfied, shaken and, in some cases, grieving.CBC News has spoken to several patients who say long airlift delays have negatively impacted their wellbeing. Their stories paint a picture of a complex system that sometimes strikes its patients as troubled or ineffective.Dawn Volpatti says her trust in the service can't be repaired after a traumatizing wait time in 2008.That year, Volpatti went to hospital in Labrador City while pregnant, with vomiting and seizures. As her condition worsened, she was told the province had no aircraft at its disposal that could fly through the wintry weather that day.Instead, an aircraft in Quebec, which she understands could withstand those conditions, transported her to hospital in that province, where she delivered the baby. Her daughter did not survive. During two subsequent pregnancies, Volpatti uprooted her life and family to Ontario until after her daughters were born to avoid relying on medevac services in Labrador. Since then, the province has upgraded its fleet and moved one base to Happy Valley-Goose Bay.Volpatti remains shaken, however, by recent stories outlining continued delays."I know that an air ambulance is not a guarantee of life," Volpatti said."But we deserve a fighting chance. And I don't think that the air ambulance situation that we have now is really giving us a fighting chance."Staffing gaps Greenham, a cancer survivor who in 2018 also experienced a delay that caused her to miss a surgery in St. John's, won't accept the reason her brother nearly didn't make it."It's not that there was a medical or mechanical problem with the flight. It wasn't a weather issue. It wasn't the fact that there was an emergent case, a more emergent case," she said."It was staffing. And that should never be."She's now collecting stories from other Labrador patients, hoping to jumpstart a conversation about improvement to the system. Greenham notes that she's heard from people still wondering why they had been left in limbo. In one case, she said, a man waited 11 days for a medical evacuation in 2019 after going to the doctor with chest pain. Dr. Brian Metcalfe, the provincial medical director under Eastern Health, said staffing gaps have sometimes led to delays, as well as weather, geography, and maintenance."We've managed to solve some of the staffing issues that we have faced over time. But staffing can be a challenge for us," he said.A total of 857 flights to and from Labrador were conducted in 2019, according to data provided by Eastern Health, the overseeing authority for the province's air ambulance agency, MedFlight NL.Eastern Health could not immediately say how many of those flights were classified as delayed.Specialized workAlthough Metcalfe noted staffing gaps have recently improved, he said the behind-the-scenes work is sometimes hampered by conditions outside the agency's control, such as weather, resources and geography."There is a very busy, very dedicated team whose entire job is to ensure that we have this service available to the province," Metcalfe said. "It's a very complex system, but we're a very dedicated group of people who are constantly doing our best."That includes bringing a small hospital directly to the patient. To combat long flight times, the medical staff on air ambulance flights "don't just move patients," Metcalfe said. "Instead of a patient coming to a critical care team, we bring it to them, so that we can get the specialized care to them quicker, stabilize the patients in a more timely fashion. We have better outcomes because of that."For Greenham, who's still collecting information volunteered by other patients, that reassurance can't help her brother."There needs to be a contingency plan if people call in sick," Greenham said. "Any improvements that can be made should be made."If you stop talking about it, you can rest assured that nothing's going to be done. So we need to keep this fresh and talked about and advocated for."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Parents in Saskatchewan now know what will happen if their child or a classmate tests positive for COVID-19 and clarity from the government appears to be calming the concerns of some parents. The Government of Saskatchewan's Back to School Plan, which was criticized heavily by teachers and parents upon its release, has undergone several changes over the past month, with the government allocating divisions more money and more time to get prepared. Then, last week, the government detailed how it plans to contain positive cases of COVID-19 in schools, releasing an information package specifically for parents.The package touched on everything from what will be required to declare an outbreak at a school, to what would cause an entire school to convert to non-classroom learning.Facebook post offers parent perspectiveAdrienne Ivey is a mother and an agricultural advocate in Ituna, Sask. and she recently took to Facebook to express how she feels about sending her kids back to school.In the post, which has been shared online more than 1,600 times, Ivy detailed how she feels it's a problem parents are failing to address the all risks their children face, saying they've fallen victim to focusing on only one: COVID-19."During the Covid-19 lockdowns, it has been our children who have given up more than anyone else. Not only have we taken their social lives, their hobbies, and their sports," she said in the post. "We have halted their formal schooling, and put barriers up for their emotional and social skill development."Ivey appeared on CBC Saskatchewan News at Six to discuss the post and her feelings about sending her kids back to school with host Sam Maciag, saying she's always been one to find the bright side in anything. "There are so many positives of kids going back to school," she said. "For my kids in particular, being out on the farm, they are craving social interactions with people other than their sibling and parents — so badly." Ivey said in her community, friends and family are excited to send their kids back to school and that there's a level of comfort since they know teachers and administrators have been working hard in preparation for the arrival of students. She feels parents need to have conversations about the risks associated with COVID-19 and the return to school, but also talk about the risks associated with keeping kids home as well. "My greatest worry is just the long-term effects of what these COVID shutdowns will have on our young people," she said, noting while the pandemic has been hard for everyone, children have had "everything taken away from them." "They have no sense of control themselves, so the sooner that we can get them in situations where they do have a sense of normalcy, whether it's school or sports, the better they will be in the long-term."Dr. Shahab says expect disruptionsOn Friday, the province's Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab, said it's important for people to continue following public health guidelines as school resumes, noting it's time for people to shrink their summer social bubbles. "We should be able to count our close contacts on the fingers of our hand," he said. "We know that these methods have worked well for us in Saskatchewan and they have kept our active case numbers — for the most part — extremely low."At the press conference, Dr. Shahab said the Government understands this is an "extraordinary year" for students, family and staff, noting success in reopening other parts of the province shows following guidelines is an effective way of combating COVID-19."These guidelines will continue to evolve based on not just what we learn from school reopening, but also from our community transmission levels," he said. "If they were to change, obviously our guidelines would need to evolve to accommodate that." Shahab said the "vast majority" of parents have opted for in-school learning, but noted it'll be up to families to determine what is the best choice for their kids. However, he noted parents should be prepared for several disruptions — either with their child or their class — throughout the school year."School divisions are working very hard to ensure that during all of these disruptions education will continue with as much continuity as possible," said Shahab.Education Minister Gordon Wyant has called Saskatchewan's plan the best in Canada and said he has "no regrets" about its content and how it was rolled out. But the group that represents Saskatchewan teachers had some choice words about the plan over the weekend, with Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation president Patrick Maze criticizing it openly on Twitter."A series of random government announcements released over several months, each reacting to new developments regarding a global pandemic does not constitute a "plan"," Maze said in Tweet. "And said "plan" should never then be duplicitously labelled as "the best plan in Canada."Parents feeling positive about recent plansBut parents like Noelle Hubbard, who has three kids set to attend school in Saskatoon, are feeling positive about sending kids back to school, as she feels plans to contain COVID-19 cases are solid."At some point, we have to trust the people that are putting it together," she said. "They're educated. They're in consultation with all of the parties involved and I think they're making the best decisions they can, given the amount of information everyone has got."Hubbard says she's comfortable with the numbers outlined in terms of when an outbreak would be declared and when a school-wide change may take place, as it gives everyone a uniform picture of the process.She does have some questions about who will be making the judgment calls on what symptoms would result in a child being sent home, however. "What's it going to take?" she asked. "Is it going to be a simple belly ache, and 'oh my goodness, they can't be at school?' Is it going to be a tiny sniffle from just running outside on the playground during recess and they're going to think that they should go home and get a COVID swab?" she asked. "So I'm a little concerned at those levels of parameters." For Hubbard and her family, she said the time to go back to school is right. "The kids have suffered so much during the pandemic, they need some sort of normalcy," she said.> We should support them as much as possible and encourage them along the way as well, just like we should encourage our kids. \- Alicia Hanowski, Regina parent on supporting Sask. teachersAlicia Hanowski has three kids attending school in Regina. She too feels the plans will help keep her kids safe. Hanowski feels the thresholds in place are suitable and the plan should be given a chance, as everyone is ready to get back to the "new normal." "We need to let the process take place and let our teachers take the time to see if this plan is going to be effective," she said. "Again, there was no manual on how to be a teacher in a pandemic. We need to give them the opportunity to teach our kids, to support them and understand where they're coming from." Like many parents across the province, Hanowski said she's had extensive conversations with her kids about the return to school, and even plans to visit her younger childrens' school to help them become familiar with all the changes.She said it's important that families and their students are behind Saskatchewan teachers as they try to educate the masses in the face of a list of unknown challenges. "We should support them as much as possible and encourage them along the way as well, just like we should encourage our kids," she said, noting: "We're all in this together." "This is another starting of "Day 1" of being students and teachers and parents in a pandemic and I think we should all support each other."
Consistency with what schools themselves are putting into place is key, says Winnipeg-based epidemiologist Cynthia Carr.