What seems like a solution for keeping Toronto-area restaurants in business by extending patio season through the winter has been met with potential issues with implementation. Melanie Zettler explains.
What seems like a solution for keeping Toronto-area restaurants in business by extending patio season through the winter has been met with potential issues with implementation. Melanie Zettler explains.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travelled to Saudi Arabia and met its crown prince, an Israeli official said on Monday, in what would be the first publicly confirmed visit there by an Israeli leader as the countries close ranks against Iran. Earlier, Israeli media said Netanyahu had secretly flown on Sunday to Neom, on the Red Sea, for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Reports of the meeting between the crown prince and Netanyahu were denied by Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.
The health authority in western Quebec has taken creative steps to address the region's hospital bed shortage by converting a Gatineau, Que., hotel into a medical facility for people with COVID-19 and other ailments.For the second time since the pandemic started, the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l'Outaouais (CISSSO) has made major changes to the Quality Inn on rue Bellehumeur, with 116 rooms currently housing around 30 patients. "We have nurses, nurses' aides, we have doctors that come in and work with our patients. We also have personal assistants," said Suzanne Denis, who works with seniors for CISSSO. "We also have access to all of the staff that's available to home care."Gatineau is currently deemed a "red zone" by the province of Quebec, which comes with the toughest COVID-19 restrictions. The health authority said it didn't want to be caught unprepared if a lot of people suddenly get sick. The hotel itself is now zoned into different areas: the cold zone (green), the warm zone (yellow) and the hot zone (red).The cold zone is for patients who don't have COVID-19 but need care or supervision on a daily basis, and includes people waiting to go into long-term care. The warm zone is for patients who have COVID-19 symptoms or who've come in contact with the virus. They're isolated or monitored for 14 days to see if they need to go into the red zone, which is for patients who've tested positive.Those patients stay in isolation at the hotel until they've recovered from COVID-19.Stéphane Pleau, CISSSO's director of technical services and logistics, said it took them three weeks to convert the hotel and make it safe for patients.Each zone has its own access to prevent cross-contamination, meaning patients and staff have to leave the building to go from one area to another."We had to zone it in different different categories for the warm, cold and hot zones so that we can have beds for different types of clientele," Pleau said.For now, patients' meals are still prepared off-site — but CISSSO says that should soon change as hospital staff are about to take over the hotel's kitchen."It'll allow the employees to have more time to spend with the residents while they're eating, while they're having activities," Denis said. "They won't be taking up, I'll say, clinical time [to prepare] their food."Creating a facility like this also increases the need for staff, already an issue for the region which has experienced multiple shortages of hospital workers.There are currently 15 people working at the hotel, and CISSSO is hoping that number will increase.
With many Quebecers cooped up at home, some are channeling their energy by getting into the festive spirit a little early.Interest in natural Christmas trees has been rising steadily in the last few years and the Quebec Association of Christmas Tree Producers is predicting a record season."People are ready to buy local, support their neighbours and buy green," said Charles Vaillancourt, president of the association.Last weekend, dozens of families showed up at Sapinière Saint-Jean for the first day of the U-pick season. "The big advantage of U-pick is freshness as well as choice," said co-owner Michel Gravel.Like the boom for Quebec apple producers in the fall, some Christmas tree producers are expecting an influx of people looking for a festive outdoor activity.While some farms are offering U-pick services, others are adapting to try and serve shoppers from afar.Les Sapins de Clericy in Rouyn-Noranda is offering to deliver farm fresh Christmas tree to local clients who order online or by phone.Co-owner Mary-Lou de Denus said that they cancelled their U-pick season because it's impossible to maintain distancing between clients.She said that normally the farm welcomes visitors not just to buy but to gather, have a snack or a drink, and chat. This year, that tradition can't happen, so the farm is closed to the public."Of course, we are going to reduce our service a little bit because it's more complex to deliver. But we will try to respect as much as possible the customers' choice of height and width," she said.When it comes to artificial trees and other holiday decorations, some stores reported crowds of shoppers buying up their stock earlier than normal."People are buying Christmas decorations at a never-before-seen rate," said François Gendron, manager at a Canac hardware store in Quebec City.Gendron said he's never seen such a craze for Christmas decorations at the beginning of November."We have a lot of inventory, but it is starting to decrease," he said. "So, eventually we will run out of stock."He suggested that one reason for the increased demand is that everyone is stuck at home this year, including snowbirds and others who travel around the holidays."They have to equip themselves from A to Z because they have no tree and no decorations," he said.
For more than 40 years, an important piece of Acadian art languished in the basement of Louis-J-Robichaud High School in Shediac.The theatre curtain, measuring three metres by 5½ metres, depicts a scene from the deportation of the Acadians in the mid-18th century.Commissioned in 1931, the canvas was painted by Acadian artist Edouard Gautreau.The curtain hung in the Shemogue parish theatre hall until the 1960s, when the hall fell into disrepair, but the work of art was spared.Over the years, the canvas became increasingly damaged until it was rescued by the late Father Maurice Léger in 1979 and put in the care of the Société Historique de la Mer Rouge.It sat in the high school basement for decades, before ownership was transferred to the Nation Prospère Acadie charity in May 2020, with the promise of restoration."When we first unveiled it here when it was brought here a lot of us thought "Oh my goodness, this is so damaged, what can we do with this?" said Daniel LeBlanc, the organization's executive director."But the work began and suddenly we started to see colours appear, very beautiful colours, and I think we got the sense that this could be restored to a very high-quality painting."A grant of $7,500 from the Sheila Hugh Mackay Foundation helped get the restoration work started.Over the summer, the canvas got its first treatment, which removed dirt and consolidated some of the missing sections. It had been ripped in half in the 1970s.It was also put on display, at the Musée de Kent in Bouctouche, for the first time in a half a century."Throughout the painting we see sections which were lost unfortunately with deterioration over time," LeBlanc said. "There was a lot of filth and mould over it and so the work of the restoration expert was to prepare it so that it could be saved for future restoration work and also to expose it so that the public could see." It will soon be taken down and rested on a flat surface for the winter, stabilizing it so it doesn't have any stress on the threads of the painting. Then it will be ready for the next stage of restoration."Painstakingly all the sections of the painting which have more filth on it, even mould, need to be cleaned thoroughly and the sections finally need to be patched in with paint," LeBlanc said.A specialist will match colours and repaint some of the damaged sections so it can finally be completed. A canvas will be needed underneath to keep everything supported.The final stage will be to frame the piece and have it permanently displayed.LeBlanc said this was one of artist Edouard Gautreau's largest works of art.Born in Saint-Paul-de-Kent in 1906, Gautreau started painting at a young age, and he painted many large pieces in New Brunswick churches. LeBlanc said that unfortunately, many of those pieces were lost in fires.LeBlanc said this canvas is special."Gautreau was very skilled in copying paintings but also bringing his own intuition and colours on paintings, so this is quite a much improved version of the small picture that you find in the Evangeline book," he said.LeBlanc said the first phase of restoration cost about $15,000, but the next phase will be more costly, at more than $75,000.LeBlanc is still working on raising the funds, but hopes the restoration work can begin again next summer. He'd like to see it completed by late 2021 or in 2022.LeBlanc said the canvas has had a long journey, one he'll be happy to see completed."We went from discouragement to hope that we can actually complete this project and it can be a beautiful project for Acadia."
Island Nature Trust staff knew there was garbage in the Culloden forested natural area, but when they started to clean it up about a week ago, they were surprised with what they found.The site in eastern P.E.I. has a large pit in it that was once used as an illegal dump. Island Nature Trust took ownership of the land in 2003. Normally, the pit is covered in water, but this year it wasn't, providing staff the perfect opportunity to start cleaning it up."We knew that there would be quite a bit of garbage based on what we could see at the surface," said Amy Frost-Wicks, land stewardship program co-ordinator with Island Nature Trust. But once staff and volunteers started to clean it up, they realized there was a lot more garbage than expected."We were pulling out bags that were kind of buried under a foot or a foot and a half of soil," said Frost-Wicks."None of us realized how extensive it actually was."By the time the team's first effort at cleaning up the site was done, about 635 kilograms of garbage was removed, said Frost-Wicks. If staff continue to find garbage on the site, professional remediation might be needed."That would involve a lot more work. That could even involve having heavy machinery come in and just completely dig out the whole site," said Frost-Wicks. Island Nature Trust staff estimate the dump site is at least a couple of decades old."We were also finding some really old gas cans and old chewing tobacco containers and old gum containers, like the metal tins. So it could have been as old as the 60s," she said. Frost-Wicks said the garbage poses numerous problems."The plastics, as it ages in the sun, it can become brittle and it breaks apart. And then you get all these smaller pieces of plastic, which are even harder to clean up. Also, wildlife can mistake that plastic for food," she said. Finding sites of this scale on P.E.I. is uncommon, said Frost-Wicks. "At least on natural areas that Island Nature Trust owns, thankfully, we don't find them too often. I mean, there are inevitably some sites that you find that have kind of older piles of garbage, like at the back of fields and stuff like that, or you'll find an old car in the woods every once in a while," she said.More from CBC P.E.I.
HONG KONG — Prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong and two other activists were taken into custody Monday after they pleaded guilty to charges related to a demonstration outside police headquarters during anti-government protests last year. Wong, together with fellow activists Ivan Lam and Agnes Chow, pleaded guilty to charges related to organizing, taking part in and inciting protesters to join an unauthorized protest outside police headquarters last June. The trio were members of the now-disbanded Demosisto political party. They were remanded in custody at a court hearing Monday, and the three are expected to be sentenced on Dec. 2. Those found guilty of taking part in an unlawful assembly could face as long as five years in prison depending on the severity of the offence. “I am persuaded that neither prison bars, nor election ban, nor any other arbitrary powers would stop us from activism,” Wong said, ahead of the court hearing. “What we are doing now is to explain the value of freedom to the world, through our compassion to whom we love, so much that we are willing to sacrifice the freedom of our own. I’m prepared for the thin chance of walking free.” Wong rose to prominence as a student leader during the 2014 Umbrella Movement pro-democracy protests and is among a growing number of activists being charged with relatively minor offences since Beijing in June imposed a sweeping national security law on the territory that has severely restricted political speech. Pro-democracy supporters have said the legal charges are part of a campaign to harass and intimidate them. Lam, who also spoke ahead of the court hearing, said he too was prepared to be jailed. Wong wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday that he and Lam had decided to plead guilty after consulting with their lawyers. The two previously pleaded not guilty to the charges. Chow had already pleaded guilty to charges of inciting others and taking part in the protest. “If I am sentenced to prison this time, it will be the first time in my life that I have been in jail,” Chow wrote on her Facebook page on Sunday. “Although I am mentally prepared, I still feel a little bit scared. However, compared to many friends, I have suffered very little. When I think of this, I will try my best to face it bravely,” she wrote. On June 21 last year, thousands rallied outside the police headquarters to protest what they said was excessive police force against demonstrators Zen Soo, The Associated Press
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Nov. 23 ... What we are watching in Canada ... OTTAWA -- Businesses struggling to pay the bills because of the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to start applying today for a long-awaited new commercial rent-relief program offered by the federal government. The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy replaces an earlier rent-support program for businesses introduced in the spring that saw little pickup because it relied on landlords to apply for help. The new program will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or commercial mortgage interest on a sliding scale based on revenue declines, with an extra 25 per cent available to the hardest-hit firms. Federal cabinet ministers will highlight the program during a news conference this morning in which they will also open two initiatives designed to help businesses owned by Black Canadians. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which represents thousands of small companies across the country, is welcoming the new rent program as long overdue for firms hard hit by COVID-19. However, it is criticizing the government for not opening it to businesses that would have qualified for the previous rent-relief program, but could not access federal funds because their landlords chose not to apply. --- Also this ... OTTAWA -- N-D-P MP Laurel Collins is reviving a call for the environment commissioner to be a stand-alone officer of Parliament. Collins is pushing a motion at the environment committee to pull the position out of the Office of the Auditor General and make it a separate entity. The Victoria MP says the commissioner needs its own dedicated staff to ensure it can fulfil its mandate. She says the commissioner used to perform up to five environmental audits annually but has just one underway this year and two planned for 2021. The Liberal government of former prime minister Jean Chrétien created the position in 1995, but did not meet a campaign promise to make it an office independent from the auditor general. The motion from Collins is nearly identical to one passed by the same committee 13 years ago but the request was never fulfilled. --- ICYMI ... OTTAWA -- Canada and Britain struck a new trade deal on Saturday, allowing the long-standing partners to trumpet a commercial triumph in the face of the economic devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. The interim deal beat the looming Dec. 31 Brexit deadline, replacing Canada's current agreement with Britain under the European Union that covers trade between the two countries. Announced amid a virtual gathering of G-20 leaders, the interim pact is a placeholder that buys Canada and Britain another year to reach a more comprehensive agreement while also warding off a no-deal scenario that would have triggered new tariffs on a range of Canadian exports on Jan. 1 But few details were released about the new agreement. Breaking with past practice during trade negotiations, there were no pre-announcement briefings for journalists and no text was released. --- What we are watching in the U.S. ... WASHINGTON, D.C. — U-S President Donald Trump’s campaign has filed plenty of lawsuits in six states as he tries to upend an election he lost to Democrat Joe Biden. The strategy may have played well in front of TV cameras, but it’s proved a disaster in court, where judges uniformly have rejected claims of vote fraud. The latest case ended Saturday, when a federal judge in Pennsylvania said Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani presented only “speculative accusations” and no proof of rampant corruption in the vote. A law school professor says the suits threaten the future of elections because so many Americans believe the claims being made by Trump’s team. Meanwhile, Biden is expected to nominate Antony Blinken as secretary of state, according to multiple people familiar with the Biden team’s planning. If nominated and confirmed, Blinken would be a leading force in Biden’s bid to reframe the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world after four years in which Trump questioned longtime alliances. --- What we are watching in the rest of the world ... LONDON -- AstraZeneca says late stage trials of its COVID-19 vaccine developed with Oxford University were “highly effective’’ in preventing disease. The results are based on interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of the vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca. The drugmaker reported today that no hospitalizations or severe cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in those receiving the vaccine. “These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives. Excitingly that one of our dosing regimens may be around 90 per cent effective,’’ said Professor Andrew Pollard, the chief investigator for the trial. Two other drugmakers, Pfizer and Moderna, last week reported preliminary results from late-stage trials showing that their COVID-19 vaccines were almost 95 per cent effective. --- In entertainment ... LOS ANGELES -- Taylor Swift won her third consecutive artist of the year prize at last night's American Music Awards. She beat out Canadians Justin Bieber and The Weeknd for the top award, while also winning favourite music video and favourite pop/rock female artist. Though The Weeknd lost artist of the year, he still kicked off his all-star week as a big winner: Days before he’s expected to land multiple Grammy nominations, the pop star dominated the 2020 American Music Awards with multiple wins. The Toronto native won favourite soul/R&B male artist, favourite soul/R&B album for “After Hours" and favourite soul/R&B song for “Heartless. The Weeknd didn’t break character throughout last night's three-hour show with his gauze-wrapped face, which matched the vibe of his recent album and music videos where he appears blooded and bruised. He was one of several artists who appeared live at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles for the fan-voted awards show. Others taped performances because of the pandemic. Bieber and fellow Canuck pop star Shawn Mendes opened the show with a performance of their new duet "Monster." --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2020 The Canadian Press
Health officials in Alberta have begun hunting around for specialized freezers, one of the first steps in preparing for the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines which could begin arriving within the next few months. Earlier this month, the province began the procurement process for freezers able to meet COVID-19 vaccine storage requirements. Initially, the government proposed the sole-source purchase of five freezers from Fisher Scientific, according to procurement documents, although Alberta Health said there is now an open competition between potential suppliers. Alberta is looking to purchase four ultra-low units needed for the Pfizer vaccine and two laboratory freezer units for the Moderna vaccine. The six units will have about 23 cubic feet of capacity, which would be about the same size as a large refrigerator. The storage units will be held at the provincial vaccine depot located in Fort Saskatchewan. Ultracold temperature freezers are in high demand and typically cost about $15,000. The Pfizer vaccine must be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius. The ultra-low temperature storage requirements have sent some health authorities and hospitals scrambling to find special freezers. "We don't know which vaccines we're going to get so the government is really preparing for every eventuality," said Shannon MacDonald, a registered nurse and a professor at the University of Alberta's School of Public Health. MacDonald and her team are currently researching who should be prioritized to receive the vaccine, which is part of a COVID-19 rapid response research project funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and is intended to guide public health officials in how they dole out the first rounds of immunizations when they become available in Canada. Alberta expects to receive 465,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 221,000 of the Moderna vaccine for a total of 686,000 doses, earlier in the new year. Being able to receive the doses and store them properly is just one part of the process to disburse the vaccines. "The process is not linear. [The government] has to do a whole bunch of things at once," said Dr. Margaret Russell, an associate professor and researcher at the University of Calgary's Cumming School of Medicine, who specializes in public health preventive medicine. WATCH | Why infectious disease experts are encouraged, cautious about Pfizer vaccine: Health officials will have to create a distribution plan and decide who will deliver the vaccine, where it will go in the province and how it will be stored, she said. At the same time, officials have to decide how many people will be needed to help at clinics where the vaccine will be administered. "They have to think about the human resources, the training and skills set. Of course, right now, during COVID, people have to self isolate, we're hearing a lot about health-care workers having to self isolate," Dr. Russell said. Vaccine recipients will need to be monitored for any adverse effects and to ensure they receive the second dose of the vaccination. Besides the logistical considerations, a communications plan will also be key, said MacDonald, with the University of Alberta. Health officials will have to preach patience, while also providing encouragement, she said. "We need to reassure people that all the usual processes have been followed [in developing the vaccines], but much more quickly through a massive injection of funds, so that people are reassured, so that when it's their turn and they are eligible for the vaccine, they're prepared to get the vaccine," said Macdonald. Pfizer has begun "rolling submissions" for the vaccine with regulators in Europe, the United Kingdom and Canada, the company said. The vaccine is among seven that Canada has pre-ordered.
MANILA, Philippines — U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration provided precision-guided missiles and other weapons to help the Philippines battle Islamic State group-aligned militants and renewed a pledge to defend its treaty ally if it comes under attack in the disputed South China Sea. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien represented Trump in Monday’s ceremony at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila, where he announced the delivery of the missiles and bombs to the Philippine military. Trump pledged to provide the $18 million worth of missiles in a phone conversation with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in April, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said. O’Brien expressed condolences to the Philippines after back-to-back typhoons left a trail of death and devastation in the country and outlined U.S. help to the country to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. assistance projects normalcy in Washington’s foreign relations as Trump works to challenge the results of the Nov. 3 presidential election, claiming he was a victim of fraud. Duterte had asked Filipino Americans to vote for Trump but congratulated Joe Biden, through his spokesperson, for winning the election. Asked in an online news briefing if any of the officials he met in Vietnam and the Philippines voiced concern about the post-election situation in the U.S., O’Brien said nobody did. “There will be a transition if the courts don’t rule in President Trump’s favour,” he said. O’Brien represented Trump in a recent online summit between the U.S. and leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and an expanded East Asia summit of heads of state attended by China and Russia that was also held by video and hosted by Vietnam. In his remarks at the turnover of the U.S. missiles in Manila, O’Brien cited the Trump administration’s role in the defeat of the Islamic State group in the Middle East and last year’s killing of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in Syria, and renewed its commitment to help defeat IS-linked militants in the southern Philippines. “President Trump is standing with President Duterte as we combat ISIS here in Southeast Asia,” O’Brien said. “This transfer underscores our strong and enduring commitment to our critical alliance.” He expressed hope for the continuance of a key security agreement that allows American forces to train in large-scale combat exercises in the Philippines. Duterte moved to abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement with the U.S. early this year but later delayed the effectivity of his decision to next year, a move welcomed by O’Brien. He said the U.S. stands with the Philippines in its effort to protect its sovereign rights in the South China Sea. The Philippines announced last month that it would resume oil and gas explorations in or near Reed Bank, which lies off the country’s western coast and is also claimed by China. “They belong to the Philippine people. They don’t belong to some other country that just because they may be bigger than the Philippines they can come take away and convert the resources of the Philippine people. That’s just wrong,” O’Brien said. He repeated U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement early this year that “any armed attack on Philippine forces aircraft or public vessels in the South China Sea will trigger our mutual defence obligations.” The allies have a 69-year-old mutual defence treaty. In July, Pompeo escalated the Trump administration’s attacks against China by declaring that Washington regards virtually all Chinese maritime claims in the disputed waterway as illegitimate. China reacted angrily by accusing the U.S. of sowing discord between Beijing and neighbouring Asian states. Jim Gomez, The Associated Press
Toronto and Peel Region have officially moved into "lockdown" as Ontario tries to curb the province's steep rise in COVID-19 cases. The shutdown will last a minimum of 28 days and could result in fines as high as $750 for people caught breaking public-health rules. Confused about what those rules are? This guide will help. Here's a list of what's open and closed under lockdown restrictions. What's open * Schools. * Pharmacies, doctor and dentist offices. * Grocery stores. * Essential services. * Drive-in cinemas. * Indoor and outdoor cleaning and maintenance services are permitted. * Film and television productions are permitted to stay open if they adhere to several conditions. * Real estate agencies. * Veterinary services.What's closed * Post-secondary institutions move to virtual instruction, with some exceptions, such as clinical training. * Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments. * Gyms. * Cinemas. * Horse racing. * Amusement parks and water parks. * Motorsports. * Zoos and aquariums. * Museums, art galleries, science centres. * Photography studios and services. * In-person driving instruction. * In-person personal services including personal shoppers and wedding planners aren't permitted. * Tour and guide services. What's limited * Indoor and outdoor dining at restaurants is prohibited. Instead, restaurants can only offer takeout, drive-thru and delivery. * Nightclubs and strip clubs can offer takeout, drive-thru or delivery if they also operate as a food and drink establishment. * Non-essential retail and malls are limited to curbside pickup or delivery only. * No new reservations for short-term rentals are permitted. This does not apply to hotels, motels, lodges, resorts, or student residences. * Libraries are open for curbside, delivery or pick-up. * Community centres and multi-purpose facilities are allowed to stay open for permitted activities such as child-care services. * Performing arts facilities are closed to spectators, but are open for rehearsal. * Campsites must be made available only for individuals who are in need of housing, or are permitted to be there by the terms of a full season contract. * Golf courses and driving ranges are permitted for outdoor operation only. Gatherings and events * No indoor gatherings will be allowed with anyone outside a person's household. * Individuals who live alone can have close contact with one other household. * Outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people. * Religious services, funerals and weddings are limited to 10 people indoors or outdoors. * Virtual and drive-in gatherings, events services, rites or ceremonies are permitted.WATCH | What you need to know about lockdown restrictions For a full list of what's open and closed during lockdown, click here. Other regions move into red, orange zonesMeanwhile, several other regions identified as hot spots have been moved into the red "control" zone and the orange "restrict" zone. The following regions are now in the red zone: * Durham. * Hamilton. * Halton. * Waterloo. * York.The following regions are now in the orange zone: * Brant County. * Huron Perth. * Niagara Region. * Ottawa. * Simcoe Muskoka. * Southwestern Public Health. * Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph. * Windsor-Essex.In the red zone, gatherings are confined to five people indoors and 25 people outdoors. Religious services, weddings and funerals are confined to 30 per cent capacity indoors and 100 people outdoors.The maximum number of patrons permitted to be seated at a bar or restaurant indoors is 10. Outdoor dining, take out, drive-thru and delivery are all permitted.Gyms and fitness studios are also permitted to be open with maximum of 10 people indoors. In the orange zone, gatherings are limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. The maximum number of patrons permitted to be seated at a bar or restaurant indoors is 50, with tables of up to four people allowed. To see Ontario's full list of rules for the five levels of public-health measures, click here.
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Two people died and multiple others were injured in a stabbing Sunday night at a church in California where homeless people had been brought to shelter from the cold weather, police said. The stabbing happened at Grace Baptist Church in San Jose, where police said on Twitter that no services were taking place. “Unhoused individuals were brought into the church to get them out of the cold,” the department tweeted. It was unclear exactly how many people were wounded, but some of the injuries were life-threatening, police said. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo initially tweeted that a suspect had been arrested, but police later said no arrest could be confirmed. KTVU-TV reported that a 22-year-old man was apprehended in the stabbing. Video shown by news outlets near the church showed several ambulances and police cars, and police tape and traffic cones cordoning off the road. The Associated Press
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday she offered President-elect Joe Biden assistance with tackling the rampant outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States. During the first talks between the two since Biden was elected as the next U.S. president, Ardern said she offered access to New Zealand's most senior health officials. “I offered to him and his team access to New Zealand health officials in order to share their experience on things we’ve learnt on our Covid-19 journey," Ardern told reporters in Wellington.
As the price of bitcoin soars, Chinese cryptocurrency asset managers are looking to expand in places such as Hong Kong and Singapore, skirting an intensified crackdown at home. Cryptocurrency-focused hedge funds have grown assets under management and registered hefty gains this year thanks to bitcoin's recent surge to over $18,000, close to its 2017 high. At the same time, Beijing has been tightening already strict scrutiny over cryptocurrencies as the People's Bank of China (PBOC) prepares to launch its own digital currency, partly a response to the threat from currencies like bitcoin, officials say.
Three more houses on May Street in north-end Halifax may soon be torn down.In 2016, 17 properties were demolished on Fern Lane, May, McCully and Robie streets to make way for an expansion of the Colonial Honda car dealership. That sparked a "Homes not Hondas" protest group.Dynamic Properties owns 5792, 5796 and 5800 May Street, which are three attached buildings. The director for the company is Rob Steele, who is also the CEO of the Steele Auto Group, which includes Colonial Honda.Initially Halifax Regional Municipality officials said there was an application for a demolition permit of one of the properties. They have since confirmed that the application is to tear down all three addresses, although the permit has not yet been issued. 'We could use that housing'The move dismayed Jim Graham, the executive director of the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia."Could we use that housing? Yeah, we could use that housing," said Graham. "It is discouraging."Graham said landlords are telling him that they are getting 12 calls for even bed-sitting units."The vacancy rate [for affordable housing] is not one per cent, it's zero," said Graham.Lisa Roberts, the MLA who represents the May Street area, agreed that affordable housing units are not being replaced at the same rate they are disappearing."We don't need another lot in Halifax-Needham," said Roberts, "We have a whole lot of them."A spokesperson for Colonial Honda said the company has purchased a two-storey, three-unit residential condominium building on May Street."The condo units involved were housed in a single building on the south side of May Street, adjacent to the Colonial Honda parking lot," the spokesperson said."Colonial plans to take down the building and expand the parking lot, which fronts on the Robie Street commercial corridor. This part of Robie is home to several auto dealership, service and repair centres."City can't stop demolitionsAn HRM planner wrote a report in 2016 that said council "does not have the ability to prohibit demolition."HRM councillors are meeting Tuesday to discuss which affordable housing projects are eligible for the $8.7 million from Ottawa under the Rapid Housing Initiative.Lindell Smith, the councillor for the area, said the zoning is also a factor."A lot of the residential properties and areas in the north end are actually zoned commercial," said Smith. "So I wish there were ways to protect it, but they own it and unfortunately they're deciding to take houses and put them into parking lots." MORE TOP STORIES
During Nova Scotia's fall municipal elections, two mayoral candidates said Cape Breton Regional Municipality was either bankrupt or nearly so.That's not the case, say others."We're a bankrupt municipality. People know. This whole island knows that," mayoral candidate Archie MacKinnon said during one of the election debates.Chris Abbass said during a debate that CBRM is "on the verge of financial collapse." In another, he said the municipality is not sustainable."We're slowly going bankrupt and if we don't do something about our cost-effectiveness and our efficiency in government, we're going to become ... a ward of the province or something, but we won't be anymore."But Mark Gilbert, a retired finance expert who was with the Department of Municipal Affairs and is a retired local government professor at Dalhousie University, said CBRM's financial statements show otherwise.The municipality does have net debt of roughly $145 million, but Gilbert said if you add in non-financial assets, it is more than $300 million in the black."This doesn't look like a municipality that doesn't have the wherewithal to continue operating," he said.With that much debt, a big question is future infrastructure needs and the municipality's ability to pay for the cost of borrowing through taxes or user fees, Gilbert said.However, CBRM's debt-service ratio is just over 10 per cent and the province doesn't red flag that until it hits 15 per cent or more.Gilbert said that means the municipality could borrow if it needed to finance large projects."If they were interested in borrowing, the capacity would certainly be there," he said."The thing that most municipalities are concerned about, and I did some research in this area for Infrastructure Canada, is not so much being able to borrow, but it's being able to service the debt."Jennifer Campbell, CBRM's chief financial officer, said the municipality would only be in trouble under extraordinary circumstances."For example, all of our long-term debt would have to be called at once, resulting in an immediate financial obligation of over $80 million and … that is not going to happen," she said.CBRM has long-term debt financing through the province's Municipal Finance Corporation that spread payments out over 10 years, Campbell said."If you're going to look at our net debt through the lens of immediate pressure, that's going to overinflate that and make it look like we aren't solvent, when, in reality, that obligation is due over a long period of time and we're well positioned to meet those obligations over that term."We have not defaulted on those terms, nor are we even close to defaulting on those terms."Municipality a going concernIt would be a struggle if all the debt came due in one year, because non-financial assets can't be easily liquidated, she said.Vehicles and buildings could be sold, but some non-financial assets would be more difficult to convert into cash."How do you sell a used municipal road or used municipal sewer pipes? There's simply no market for that," Campbell said.Last year's audited financial statement shows the municipality is a going concern. CBRM ended the year with a slight surplus of $12,000.It's not yet clear what the pandemic's impact will be on this year's finances, but a current statement is due to be unveiled at Tuesday's council meeting.MORE TOP STORIES
A perfect storm is brewing for the homeless in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, advocates fear, one that threatens to leave people alone and wandering during the cold winter days.The informal network of daytime supports — a drop-in warming room, the library, the once-monthly soup kitchen — have been cut back or cut entirely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.It's left homeless men and women with few options for basic needs and a growing fear of the cold Labrador winter that's on the way."It's really scary, I'm frightened for this year's people," said Amos Semigak.At 8 a.m. each morning, the town's only emergency shelter closes its doors and sends its clients outside. They're let back in for what the shelter calls "purpose-driven" visits — to access particular services, drink water or use the washroom. But beyond that, the clients are on the street — and in the woods — until 8 p.m., when they can get back into the shelter.On weekends, the Housing Hub is completely closed, and there's no staff to answer the door.Last year, many of those daytime hours could be spent watching TV at the Labrador Friendship Centre's common room, or on the computer in the public library. While some of those services are slowly resuming, others — like the Labrador Friendship Centre — see no easy return until the pandemic has ended.The common room at the Centre has been transformed into a COVID-19 screening area. It's a necessity, according to executive director Jennifer Hefler-Elson, for them to continue safely operating the medical hostel on-site."It was a very difficult decision," she said."We have to have that space to be able to get people to come here, to stay here, and know that they are protected as well, because the people that are coming here are vulnerable as well."Anyone who wanted to operate a warm room this winter would need a properly equipped space and properly trained staff — probably more that usual, due to COVID-19, she said. That's a set of conditions that wouldn't just appear overnight.So instead, many homeless men and women walk along the town's trails, Semigak said, where drinking is a common way to keep warm and pass the time.The remnants of make-shift camps can be seen throughout town, and they've drawn the ire of the municipal government — which wrote to the provincial government last year to complain about a growing homeless and transient population."As a council, we have received complaints of indecent exposure and acts," wrote Mayor Wally Andersen in 2019."Many consume alcohol in public at all hours of the day, and it's common to see an individual passed out on the side of the road or along trails within the community."For the past few months, Semigak has been living in a room in the Labrador Inn, a motel in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, which is being used as overflow space for the town's shelter.For him, that means he has somewhere to stay during the cold days. And, he says, he's been able to avoid the campsites along the trail where drinking is common — a fact he's proud of.But he knows what it's like to be there.Semigak is facing two charges in provincial court, relating to a fire he set in July. Court documents allege he set a fire too close to a forested area within the fire season.Semigak said he set the fire because he had been drinking and had just fallen into water. It was cold outside and was too late for him to access the homeless shelter."I could have perished that night," he said. "What could I do about this? There's nowhere I could go, there's no heat or nothing."He said he was forced into an impossible situation and fears others in the community will face those same pressures this winter."What else is there to do? There's nothing else to do here but [drink]," he said."There's no programs or anything for us people to be doing here." Staff at the Housing Hub shelter in Happy Valley-Goose Bay say they're doing everything they can to accommodate and help the homeless population, but are still struggling with a growing issue.Krystal Saunders, a coordinator and housing liaison worker at the shelter, said it seems like the need exploded earlier this year."We definitely had a rough summer in trying to provide … quality support to the clients," she said. "We didn't want to leave balls hanging in the air, but we were being forced to because we were ran so short staffed, the volume just blew up overnight."Its numbers have fallen — as some people move to other rural areas in the winter — but the shelter is still full, stretched beyond its COVID-19 capacity, and filling rooms at the Labrador Inn."This should be a temporary place for people to stay when they have no housing, and then they should be moving on," added Michelle Kinney, the deputy minister of health and social development for the Nunatsiavut Government. "At the moment, there's very little moving on."Kinney and Saunders said even as clients are making progress, there's limited spaces, long wait lists, not enough funding and not enough options for people trying to leave the shelter's care.It's all adding up to an ongoing cycle: homeless men and women shuffling into the shelter at 8 p.m., and shuffling out at 8 a.m."If there's a snowstorm at 8 o'clock in the morning, you feel really guilty about putting them out through the door," Kinney said. "But we don't have the staffing or capacity from this perspective to do any more about it.""It's a huge issue."It's an issue Dawn Crocker knows all too well.Crocker is a bartender at the Sandbar Lounge in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. She was working the night she last saw her friend, Susanna Rich."I asked her if she had a place to go, she told me she had a place, she was going to a friend's,"Rich was at the bar, but not drinking, Crocker said."She was just a kind soul, she was a peaceful lady. She just wanted to be somewhere where she felt she could be, and be herself."That was Friday night. Monday morning, police found Rich's body on the trail."It still hurts me yet to think about how she died," she said, fighting back tears. "Cold, and alone, and froze to death in a trail. And she was sober that night. She just had no place to go."The RCMP say they can't release Rich's cause of death — and the province's Chief Medical Examiner said there were no instances where hypothermia or exposure was formally registered as a cause of death in the town last winter.But Crocker believes the extreme temperatures caused — or at least contributed to — the death of her friend, and others in the community last year. And so do some of the men who stay at the emergency shelter."I'm hurt about those people that perished here due to the winter cold," said Semigak. "It wasn't right for those people to pass away. We need a proper shelter, we need the Newfoundland government to listen to us people, because we matter too, we matter as human beings.'"People keep freezing outside and dying," added Tobey Noah, a homeless man in the community.Noah's welcome to stay at the shelter, but said he doesn't feel comfortable there because of trauma he's felt over the death of his girlfriend and child, and ensuing struggles with alcoholism.The COVID-19 pandemic has scared him too. In the shelter, he'd have to sleep in a room with three or four other people."I usually just get a tarp and blankets, they usually give me blankets here to sleep outside," he said. "I make a little house, and take boughs and put them inside, and sleep in there."He could stay with family and friends, but he decided to give up his home and move to Happy Valley-Goose Bay to escape some of the demons.Crocker is terrified at the thought of another person dying alone on the trails and has started a project to help people like Noah.She's distributing sleeping bags all across Labrador, in hopes of getting them to people suffering in the cold, but said the issue needs serious attention."It's going so slowly," she said. "It's like staring into the [barrel] of a gun, knowing it's going to go off, but not knowing when…. We need to put things in place now. It should not be this way, it should never be this way."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Lawyers for two former IWK Health Centre executives are still trying to get the most appropriate witnesses on the stand as part of an effort to obtain documents from the office of Nova Scotia's auditor general.Defence counsel for Stephen D'Arcy and Tracy Kitch questioned witnesses in Nova Scotia provincial court on Thursday and Friday but ended those days with little to show for their efforts.On Thursday, acting auditor general Terry Spicer was on the stand for several hours when it became apparent he couldn't answer any detailed questions related to the performance audit of the children's hospital his office completed in 2018. That's because Spicer, who was deputy auditor general at the time, recused himself from the work because his wife worked at the health centre.The revelation and lack of progress that day prompted Judge Elizabeth Buckle to question why Spicer was put forward as a witness in the first place. None of the lawyers were aware he'd recused himself from the work until Thursday.On Friday, Michael Pickup, the province's former auditor general, appeared for two hours via video link from British Columbia, where he now works as that province's auditor general.Although Jacqueline King, Kitch's lawyer, spent the time mainly cross-examining Pickup about the process of how and when audits are performed, how the topics are selected and record keeping for audit work, Pickup, like Spicer, had little direct involvement with the performance audit work.King and Christie Hunter, D'Arcy's lawyer, are hoping to get one or two people who were active in conducting the audit on the stand for upcoming dates in December.Kitch, the former CEO of the children's hospital, is facing charges of fraud over $5,000 and breach of trust. D'Arcy, the hospital's former chief financial officer, is charged with breach of trust, unauthorized use of a computer and mischief to data.Both resigned from their posts in 2017 following an audit by Grant Thornton that showed Kitch billed about $47,000 in personal expenses to corporate accounts. She eventually repaid the money.Meanwhile, D'Arcy repaid $17,000 in expenses to the hospital just before resigning.Reporting by CBC first raised questions about Kitch's expenses and D'Arcy's involvement. At the time, both attributed the findings to unintended errors.Documents being soughtThe hospital's board then ordered the audit by Grant Thornton. The board chair at the time, Karen Hutt, then called in the auditor general and Halifax Regional Police.The application for access to records from the auditor general was made in June. It's not clear from court testimony so far what information defence lawyers are seeking, although a May 2020 letter from Crown attorney Peter Dostal to the auditor general provides possible insight."I recently received a request from defence counsel for Mr. D'Arcy to inquire for communications and meeting notes in your possession or control that relate to contact between your office and Karen Hutt and/or employees within the IWK concerning the review of the IWK CEO expenses of Tracy Kitch between 2014 and 2017 and any related involvement of Stephen D'Arcy," reads a portion of the letter, which was included as part of an affidavit by Spicer filed in court on Thursday.Part of what's at issue is whether the defence request trumps the privacy practices the office of the auditor general applies to its work. The office is not subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.Trial date could be in jeopardyWith Pickup scheduled to return to the stand on Dec. 3, and the defence still trying to secure other witnesses, there are also questions about whether the effort will affect the start of Kitch's trial.The trial is scheduled to begin on Jan. 4.But with only two dates remaining before then, concerns were voiced Friday that if Buckle rules in favour of disclosing documents to the defence, there might not be enough time for lawyers to get those documents and prepare before the start of the trial.The issue would be moot, however, if Buckle rules against the defence.D'Arcy's trial is scheduled to begin next June.MORE TOP STORIES
In 1993, Snoop Dogg released his debut solo album, “Doggystyle,” under the name Snoop Doggy Dogg. (Nov. 23)
Ownership changes in New Brunswick apartment complexes that in some cases have been generating eviction notices for tenants in entire buildings is causing anxiety among those displaced.It has led to calls for the province to delay the practice, at least while COVID-19 is surging."We're in the orange zone now," said Tara Cripps, who was told last week by National Bank she, her partner and their five children were being put out of their Saint John home of seven years."We can't even say, 'Hey, can we stay at your house?' We're supposed to be all in one family bubble thing again."She said she's going to need friends to help her pack up."And I'm going to need their trucks and their cars and stuff to move. Is somebody going to call the police and be, like, 'There's multiple people going in and out of this house?'"National Bank recently foreclosed on the Saint John apartment building owned by Cripps's landlord and, on Nov. 12, sent a lawyer's letter to her and her partner ordering them and their children to get out two weeks after Christmas."National Bank requires immediate vacant possession of the above noted property," read the notice from its Fredericton lawyer, Paul White. "On behalf of our client we hereby demand vacant possession on or before Wednesday January 6, 2021."Should you not vacate … it will be necessary for us to make court application to have you evicted and we will be asking for costs on behalf of [National Bank].""I've been here seven years and I've never been late on my rent," said Cripps."I've come to the understanding I need to find a new home. OK. But wait until it's a safer time. Wait until we're not in the orange zone. Wait until it's a little bit warmer. I'm hoping someone at the bank has a heart."The eviction of tenants unable to pay rent was halted by the Higgs government in the early days of the pandemic in March but those restrictions were lifted June 1. Since then, a new type of eviction has emerged as large numbers of New Brunswick apartment buildings have changed hands with some of the new owners wanting current tenants out.Ron Blache-Fraser, a local property manager, said out-of-province investors have taken an interest in New Brunswick income properties as attractive real estate investment opportunities."There's a lot of interest from out-of-town buyers for all sorts of buildings in Saint John because the prices are lower, the returns are better," he said. "It's pretty straightforward."In October, two five-unit buildings on Sherbrooke Street in Saint John were purchased by a group of Vancouver-area investors who paid $470,000 for the properties — 35 per cent above their assessed value. The group then issued eviction notices to tenants in one of the buildings so renovations can be done and rents increased.Blache-Fraser is managing those buildings and said they were in poor condition and needed significant work. He expects rents, which were between $475 and $650 per month prior to the purchase, will climb to $975 for a two-bedroom unit once renovations are complete."We issued notice that we would be doing major renovations and gave tenants three-months notice, which we did not have to do," said Blache-Fraser."They need to be out at the end of January. Some are already leaving and we're in the process of renovating because the buildings are in deteriorated condition." Across the city on Jack Street, an Ontario company bought a pair of 24-unit buildings. In September, it issued eviction notices to tenants in one of the buildings to be out by Nov. 30.That deadline is next week. Although most tenants have gone elsewhere, at least one woman remains. Dave Cormier is her son.He said she has been in the building for 10 years. He said finding a two-bedroom unit for her for the $750 per month she currently pays has been difficult with vacancy rates falling and rents increasing all over Saint John."It's almost impossible unless you've got $1,400, or $1,600 or $2,000 [for rent]," he said."Even $1,100 for a two-bedroom apartment is a lot of money for low-income [people]."Cormier has been speaking with the province about public housing and is hopeful something is happening, but with the eviction deadline just a week away and COVID-19 suddenly spiking in the community, it has been a stressful experience."It's scary. You know, COVID-19 is not making this any easier at all. It might be a little bit easier if that wasn't going on, but it is. And because of that, things are difficult."Last week, a surge in COVID-19 infections across southern New Brunswick caused the province to downgrade communities from Sackville to St. Stephen, including Moncton and Saint John, from the yellow phase to the orange phase of pandemic recovery. That requires the public to limit contacts with people outside of their household bubble.Premier Blaine Higgs was asked Friday if there are any additional protections for tenants in orange-phase areas who are being put out of their buildings. His answer was no."No, not at all," said Higgs. "Not at this time."That causes worry for tenants like Cripps. Her landlord owns multiple buildings and she said the letter carrier who delivered her eviction notice told her he had several others to hand out.A spokesperson for National Bank said it was not involved in other evictions and has already contacted Cripps about allowing her family to stay where it is."Other cases were with other lenders," said Jean-Francois Cadieux. "Our legal external counsel has contacted the tenants. He presented them solutions and informed them that we will not be asking that they vacate their apartment."'Kids can't sleep in a car'But Cripps said the bank's solution involves her making an offer to buy the building. She said she doesn't have a down payment and doubts she could afford the building.She does not want to uproot her children before Christmas but is worried about what comes after, especially if large numbers of other evicted renters are suddenly in the market at the same time looking for a place to live."There are good tenants that are being penalized and now they're being put out," she said."All these families now need to find a home. We're all going to be fighting for an apartment. There are going to be people who are probably going to end up homeless. What are parents going to do? Kids can't sleep in a car."
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday became the latest world leader to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden on his election victory, saying she offered to share her nation's expertise on dealing with the coronavirus.Ardern said the tone of the 20-minute phone call was warm and that Biden spoke very favourably about how New Zealand was handling the pandemic.“What has been really at the centre of our response has been some fundamentals around testing, contact tracing, isolation,” Ardern said. “That’s over and above what we’ve done at our borders.”New Zealand has been largely successful in eliminating the virus after imposing a strict lockdown in March and closing its borders. Only 25 people in the nation of 5 million have died from COVID-19.Ardern said Biden wanted to pursue the discussion on New Zealand's response further. But she cautioned that the nation's model may not be able to be replicated everywhere.“While New Zealand has a number of natural advantages that have assisted us in managing the virus, I do absolutely believe that international co-operation continues to be key to getting the virus under control," Ardern said. "We are happy to work with any country to share our knowledge and data if its helpful.”Ardern said she and Biden also discussed trade issues and climate change, and talked about the president-elect's Irish heritage and his fond memories of visiting New Zealand a few years ago. She said she invited him to come visit again.In a statement, Biden praised Ardern's “extraordinary leadership” following a 2019 mass shooting at two Christchurch mosques, and as a working mother and role model.Nick Perry, The Associated Press