California is poised to hit a fearsome milestone: 4 million acres burned this year by wildfires that have killed 31 people and destroyed hundreds of homes in what is already the worst fire season on record. (October 2)
California is poised to hit a fearsome milestone: 4 million acres burned this year by wildfires that have killed 31 people and destroyed hundreds of homes in what is already the worst fire season on record. (October 2)
Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said on Friday a resolution to a bitter dispute with Qatar seemed "within reach" after Kuwait announced progress towards ending a row that Washington says hampers a united Gulf front against Iran. The United States and Kuwait have worked to end the dispute, during which Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have imposed a diplomatic, trade and travel embargo on Qatar since mid-2017.
Le gouvernement albertain se dit prêt à recevoir et à distribuer le vaccin au cours de l’année 2021. Cependant, nul ne sait encore ce qu’il adviendra précisément de la politique de vaccination dans la province. L’Alberta a annoncé que près de 435 000 Albertains se verront proposer un vaccin au cours du premier trimestre de l’année prochaine. À l’instar du Royaume-Uni, premier pays à autoriser dès la semaine qui suit le vaccin Pfizer/BioNTech contre la COVID-19, est-ce que le vaccin Pfizer sera celui utilisé pour vacciner les habitants de l’Alberta ? Dans un sondage en date du 16 novembre, la firme de sondage Léger s’est penchée sur cette question, en interrogeant 1522 Canadiens de la province sur la venue de ce vaccin et son usage éventuel dès avril 2021. « Ce vaccin nécessiterait que vous receviez deux doses sur une période de deux semaines. Prendriez-vous ce vaccin au printemps 2021 ? » En Alberta, 20 % ont répondu qu’ils ne savent pas, 28 % le refuseraient carrément, contre 52 % qui ont répondu par l’affirmative. Des chiffres qui frisent le 50/50. Car les incertitudes, mais aussi les inquiétudes, demeurent quant aux effets au long cours concernant une conception qui aura mis moins d’un an à se faire. Ubaka Ogbogu, professeur associé à la Faculté de droit de l’Université de l’Alberta depuis 2011, et spécialisé dans la politique de vaccination explique que l’autorisation d’un vaccin ne peut se faire sans l’aval d’un organisme de réglementation en matière de santé. « Santé Canada doit mener sa propre évaluation indépendante du vaccin », rappelle-t-il. « Je pense que cela se fera par un processus accéléré similaire à celui du Royaume-Uni. Si tout se passe bien, les Canadiens devraient s’attendre à ce que le vaccin soit distribué au cours du premier trimestre 2021 », poursuit-il. Un discours qui vient corroborer l’annonce de la veille de Jason Kenney, concernant la disponibilité prochaine d’un vaccin contre la COVID-19. Politique de vaccination Face aux doutes d’une portion de la population albertaine, le gouvernement pourrait-il rendre alors la vaccination obligatoire ? Pour Ubaka Ogbogu, « il peut, mais je ne pense pas qu’il doit le faire », explique-t-il. Selon ses évaluations, il faut s’attendre à assister à une augmentation de la demande par rapport à l’offre de vaccins disponibles. De façon générale, « Le Canada n’a pas constitué de stocks suffisants pour vacciner l’ensemble de la population », note-t-il. Une réalité d’autant plus vraie pour la province de l’Alberta. Pour le professeur en droit de l’Université de l’Alberta, la question de la vaccination obligatoire n’est non seulement pas centrale, mais également sans objet. La vraie question est ailleurs. « Plutôt que de discuter de la vaccination obligatoire, nous devrions nous concentrer sur l’élaboration de critères d’attribution, afin de garantir que ceux qui en ont le plus besoin l’obtiennent en premier; nous devrions nous concentrer aussi sur la logistique de distribution [le vaccin nécessite un entreposage très froid, des équipements et des processus spécialisés pour sa distribution] et sur la transparence des processus », résume-t-il. Pour les plus sceptiques, M. Ogbogu souhaite faire une campagne de sensibilisation, pour lutter contre la désinformation sur les vaccins. Enseignements À la suite de « l’expérience » de la COVID-19, quelles seront les leçons à tirer, mais aussi les mesures à prendre en matière de politique de vaccination au niveau provincial ? Sur la base de son expertise, le professeur entrevoit déjà l’élaboration de critères d’attribution clairs pour les vaccins (et éventuellement pour d’autres thérapies de pointe) qui sont très demandés selon lui, par rapport à l’offre. « Je pense également que nous allons apprendre beaucoup sur la manière de concevoir des programmes de vaccination pour faciliter leur bonne utilisation. J’espère en tout cas que ce sera le cas », conclut-il. En attendant, si l’année 2020 s’achève avec la garantie de donner un vaccin à près de 435 000 Albertains, en 2021, la situation, elle, devient de plus en plus critique. Aux dernières nouvelles, l’Alberta prépare un plan de contingence dans lequel elle demande l’aide du gouvernement fédéral et de la Croix-Rouge, afin de soulager ses services de soin en santé.Hélène Lequitte, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Devoir
Saskatoon– A few days after the global pandemic was declared, Jim Boire got a text from his daughter. Rebecca Erker, a Royal University Hospital intensive care unit nurse. She is working on her PhD with the respiratory research centre in Saskatoon. As a result, she had a good understanding of what was at stake with COVID-19, and reason to be concerned. Thankfully, Boire is president of RMD Engineering, a Saskatoon firm whose expertise ranges from beamlines for the Canada Light Source Synchrotron to industrial processes in potash mining, and a whole lot in between. They’ve worked in uranium, agriculture, and a lot of research and development. His company (which Boire owns with four other partners, all employees) had the expertise and capacity to do something about it. And so they did. “I got my text from my daughter on March 18. March 24, we had our first prototype built,” Boire said by phone on Dec. 3. Now the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) announced on that December day it would be taking delivery of 100 new ventilators, known as the EUV-SK1, in short order. The first 20 are ready to go out the door, and the company has most of the parts in place to build as many as 1,000 units. RMD Engineering Inc.’s subsidiary, One Health Medical Technologies, recently received COVID-19 Medical Device Authorization from Health Canada for an in-house designed, developed and manufactured ventilator. Collaborating with the University of Saskatchewan and SHA subject matter experts, RMD Engineering was able to successfully prototype an emergency use ventilator for Health Canada certification. According to a Ministry of Health press release on Dec. 3, there are currently approximately 650 ventilators available in Saskatchewan’s health system, enough to meet the need. They range from high-end critical care type ventilators to more basic sub-acute ventilators. The SHA’s purchase from RMD will increase that number to about 750. But getting from a text to a prototype for an approved ventilator wasn’t easy, nor was it quick process. Very early on, the deans of both the University of Saskatchewan College of Engineering and College of Medicine got involved. Top respiratory technologies, respirologists, and ICU nurses were brought in within short order to develop this totally new product. Boire said, “As soon as we asked for them to help, they helped with open arms. And you have a team like that that knows exactly what something is supposed to do. And the capability to build something that can do that, then all you need are the codes and standards and validation equipment to make sure it meets the required level of quality.” Asked if it was like converting to war production in 1940, Boire said, “I’ll tell you, that’s exactly the way it started. “It felt like a military operation, if I was ever involved in a military operation, but I wasn't. However, as soon as we got through the point where this is going to work, this design is going to work, here's what we have to do now, a group of people said, ‘You know what? We get it. This is like a military operation, everybody's doing this, let's just go go go.’ “They stopped and said, “You know what, it's probably time now that everybody starts looking at this as the biggest humanitarian effort this company has ever done.” And it was just an awesome way to get out of that firefighting mode. And then one of our instrumentation leads said, ‘This is not a sprint. You guys can't keep working 18 hours a day. This is going to be a marathon.’ “And it really helped pull the whole team back down to the ground, and get them out of that adrenaline mode, and really start focusing on the work breakdown, structure in the tasks at hand, and who's responsible for what and what's this timing going look like and when is this going in.” His references to firefighting are authentic, as the company has built support equipment for water bombers. Worldwide shortages They soon realized that the whole world was looking for critical parts, which almost immediately went into short supply and were being hoarded. Some items, like wire, saw huge price spikes. So RMD quickly realized it had to work on this project quietly, and develop a product that avoided critical path component shortages. Boire said, “Instead of using the newer, more conventional turbine method, we knew those would be a hot commodity, when the world proclaimed they needed over a million of these. As you can imagine, that turbine is a complicated piece of equipment. We went the other way. We went back to being simple,” Boire said. “We have very, very few moving parts in our machine. There’s four moving parts.” He explained, “This is an emergency use ventilator, so it needs to be used in the hospital or in an emergency hospital situation where they have line medical air and line oxygen so that'll be running at 50 PSI. And then we control everything with proportional solenoids.” There are two tubes coming into the device, which is in a large Pelican case, and two tubes coming out. They had them on hand because of another government project they’re working on. The lid includes an IBM screen. “They’re all high reliability components,” he said. It runs off 110 volt AC power. You set it up beside the bed, hook up the lines, hook up the power and put in the appropriate prescription. High standards They had previously made the biomedical imaging line for the Canadian Light Source, but they weren’t a medical device manufacturer. The list of specifications, protocols and standards was extensive. And those standards, in some ways, simplify things. Boire said, “We don't have any proprietary stuff on there, so all of the circuits, all the nebulizers everything fits on there. All that is covered off in standards. And I think that's one of the biggest things to understand is when you go down this path, it is very prescriptive on everything. The machine has to do all of the standards it has to meet, including operational standards.” He added, “It's probably a foot tall, the stack of standards, when you put them together. You have to meet the electrical requirements, the operational requirements, the safety requirements. You don't get to just build something in your backyard, and then tell everybody you have it. When you go and look at the requirements, when you submit to Health Canada, it is an armful. And I think we've spent just about $30,000 on standards. There is a lot of standards that you have to meet.” It is very unique, he said. “We looked at the critical components like flow meters, how you measure flow and pressure, because we’re talking very low pressures that have to be measured very accurately.” This is where the consultation with respiratory technicians, anesthesiology repair technicians from the health region made a difference. Because there was such high demand for ventilator components, he said, “You have to figure out how to do that with readily available things that are very safe.” “So when we started doing our production testing, we had to do accelerated testing on components that, in the period of two or three weeks, we could get an effective 25 million cycles on a component that we designed.” By the end of December, they’ll likely have the remaining 80 units ready. They’ve also built a training version to be used in remote areas or to train people on a simulation patient or a “test lung.” They submitted their application to Health Canada on May 5. “In that period of time is when we refined our design, did our testing, had to send it out to third party,” Boire said. Commitment Quality assurance and traceability were very important, he said. “Since March, we’ve got 40,000 to 45,000 hours in already, in the development and testing and verification side.” This happened just as the company was in the middle of expanding their facility, much of which was accomplished with their own staff. “We're probably going have to hire another 12 to 15 people, and train them,” he said, noting training is a big part when dealing with healthcare devices, especially when it comes to things like quality control. “We’ve currently got 15 people now on the manufacturing side of it and the programing side, and the testing side.” They are working on getting their Medical Device Single Audit Program (MDSAP) certification, which he calls a “quality control program on steroids.” Asked if they were going to stick with it, he said, “We're going to stay as a medical manufacturer.” Boire added, “The medical device manufacturing will just be another part of our company. We're going to stay with theses rugged use ventilators, like this emergency type ventilator. We do not intend to compete with Panasonic or anybody at Philips, anybody that's making mainstream, high-volume ventilators. We’ll stay with a rugged use ventilator, because unfortunately, when you look at the numbers and look at this type of virus, the feeling is this could be around for a long time. And the government is coming out with a program that those of us that produced a medical device will have the opportunity over the next couple of years to convert that to a full medical device licence. And we'll take advantage of that just so we can make sure we keep this, here in Saskatchewan. We've already spent the money. Whatever happens now, happens. “So we want to make sure that we leverage that into good technology and good expertise for the years to come, not just, ‘Oh well, there's no more ventilators to make, we'll just do something else.’ Boire said they found that Saskatchewan really needs to focus more on trades and “getting trades educated with higher-end things.” “We have to bring manufacturing back to Saskatchewan,” he said. They were going to do it Why did they choose 1,000 units? Boire explained, “Saskatchewan said, ‘Our numbers show we need 1,000 ventilators in Saskatchewan.’ “We’re from Saskatchewan. We said we’re going to pick to do this, based on what we can do in this province. And what we did instead is while we were building this, we've built a whole project management system and basically a tool kit that if need be, if this type of ventilator is required in other places, we now have a system that we can go and work with another company very similar to ours, that has similar manufacturing capabilities and get them up and running to produce locally to them.” Boire said, “If we sold, half of what we had expected to make, we will break even. But again, it's not why we did it.” “This initiative exemplifies the spirit of collaboration and entrepreneurship we’re so proud of in our province,” Health Minister Paul Merriman said in a release. “Our government fully supports this work, and we are pleased that residents in Saskatchewan and across the country will have access to this equipment, if they need it.”Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
A unique housing project in Surrey, B.C., to support veterans and first responders got a boost from the provincial government Wednesday.The province is putting forward funds to support 91 affordable housing units for veterans with disabilities in the Legion Veterans Village, as well as a rehab centre for veterans."It means a tremendous amount," says Tony Moore, the president of the Whalley Legion Branch 229.The Whalley Legion is one of the main partners in the Legion Veterans Village, a development that will include nearly 500 units of market housing, health-care supports including a PTSD and brain injury clinic, and Legion facilities.The affordable housing units, said Moore, will address a dire need in the community."We have lots of veterans out there that are on the street and other places that need accommodation and a place to live," he said. Being located in Whalley makes it even more pertinent, he says. "We were known as the Legion on Skid Row for a while because we had 135a [Street] behind us," he said."We felt there was a need for it. And by God, we were working at it and we're going to get there."The ambitious project, with an estimated price tage of $312 million, is one of the first of its kind in Canada for a legion. It's something that doesn't faze Moore — too much."I worry about it every night when I go to bed. But, you know, we've had so many inquiries from across Canada," he said. "I hope by everything that's good that we can get more Legion Veterans Villages built across Canada."Construction of the development is already underway. Moore is hoping the development will open on November 11, 2022.
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Kevin Molino scored twice in the first half, Canadian goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair picked up his eighth shutout and Minnesota United advanced to the MLS Western Conference finals, beating Sporting Kansas City 3-0 on Thursday night.Fourth-seeded Minnesota will play at No. 2 seed Seattle on Monday night for a spot in the MLS Cup finals.Bakaye Dibassy also scored, and Emanuel Reynoso assists on all three goals.Molino opened the scoring in the 27th minute with a run up the left side to finish a feed from Reynoso. Eight minutes later, Molino wrapped his right foot around Reynoso’s chip pass with just enough pace to get it past goalkeeper Tim Melia.Dibassy made it 3-0 with a header to finish Reynoso’s corner in the 39th minute.St. Clair, a 23-year-old from Pickering, Ont., made four saves, including two key stops early on. He came off his lineto deny Sporting forward Johnny Russell's breakaway in the 14th minute, and stopped a close-range header from Roberto Puncec a minute later.The Associated Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California is on the brink of a new stay-at-home order that would close businesses and curb travel in regions that could see hospitals overwhelmed by coronavirus patients.Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new rules that take effect Saturday, designed to keep local health systems from collapsing under the weight of skyrocketing COVID-19 caseloads. Previous restrictions were based on infection rates in counties.The new order divides the state into five broad regions and restricts those with intensive care unit bed capacity below 15%. On Thursday, Newsom said four regions — all but the San Francisco Bay area — could meet that threshold “within a day or two.”California’s virus hospitalizations have nearly quadrupled since mid-October and now stand at 8,240, including 1,890 in intensive care units. The Department of Public Health reported 19,437 deaths since the start of the pandemic, including 220 health care workers.“If we don’t act now, we’ll continue to see our death rate climb, more lives lost,” Newsom said.Affected regions must close hair salons, barber shops and movie theatres, ban restaurant service except for takeout and delivery, shutter playgrounds, and limit retail stores and shopping centres to 20% customer capacity.The new stay-at-home order will last at least three weeks, cutting sharply into the most profitable shopping season and threatening financial ruin for businesses already struggling after 10 months of on-again, off-again restrictions and slow sales because of the pandemic.“This means no income for the rest of the year,” said Lam Nguyen, who owns a nail salon in the Sacramento suburb of Citrus Heights. “I’m sad and scared, not only for myself but all my friends with nail and hair salons. A lot of us are in debt.”Amy Lovece, a hairstylist who rents a chair at Salon 544 in downtown San Luis Obispo, said she already lost about half of her yearly income.“It’s sad that (Newsom) keeps closing us down. It’s unnecessary because salons are not the problem,” said Lovece, 56. “For the ones who are following the rules, it’s just not fair. I just go between home and work. I don’t go to parties or bars and I just want to keep working.”Lovece said she was angry that the county was grouped in the Southern California region with counties hundreds of miles away with far greater demands for ICU beds. Only one out of 53 ICU beds in San Luis Obispo county was occupied with a COVID-19 patient as of Thursday.The order is the latest balancing act as the state tries to slow the exploding infection rate — blamed on people gathering outside of their households — without further crashing the economy.After California closed all but essential businesses in March, the state lost 2.6 million jobs in two months. About 44% of those jobs returned when restrictions were eased as people heeded social distancing and mask-wearing precautions and new cases fell dramatically.But by fall people were congregating more for holidays and celebrations, while cooler weather drove them inside, where the virus flourishes. California is now averaging nearly 15,000 newly reported cases daily.Public health officials warn that the toll from Thanksgiving gatherings could start to swamp hospitals by Christmas.In the last month, the state imposed restrictions in 52 of the state’s 58 counties, including asking people not to leave the state and implementing an overnight curfew for all but essential trips, such as getting groceries.But it hasn't worked because data shows people are ignoring the rules, Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s top public health officer, acknowledged Thursday.“We of course had hoped and wanted to see more from that already, but we haven’t,” he said.The state might not need such a broad shutdown if it had better data on where people are being infected, said Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles Fielding School of Public Health.Are stores and nail salons chiefly to blame or should restrictions be focused elsewhere? Lack of that knowledge reflects “a failure of public health," Klausner said.He likened the current approach to shutting down food production, restaurants and grocery stores because of a salmonella outbreak.“That’s not the way we traditionally work in public health,” he said.Some counties also have bucked the rules, following cues from state and local elected officials who have criticized the governor for going too far.Shannon Grove, Republican leader in the state Senate, criticized Newsom on Thursday for continuing “to disrupt life as we know it without releasing the full data behind his decisions.”But in Los Angeles County, the nation's largest with 10 million residents, Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced that his department would be conducting “targeted enforcement on super-spreader events." The sheriff previously said he had relied on voluntary compliance with health orders.Even state government has felt the impact. Newsom and his family are self-quarantining at home after three of his children were exposed to an infected person. Two staff members in the governor’s office have tested positive for COVID-19 but hadn’t been in contact with Newsom, the office said.Beginning Monday, state government offices will close for three weeks except for those involved in “critical functions” such as public safety, prisons, social services and unemployment insurance claims processing, according to a Human Resources Department email sent to department leaders, the Sacramento Bee reported.Newsom acknowledged the difficulty in following the rules. But he urged people to stay vigilant and said progress is being made on a vaccine.“There is light at the end of the tunnel," he said.___Associated Press writer Daisy Nguyen in San Francisco contributed to this report.Adam Beam And Kathleen Romayne, The Associated Press
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kick-start your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Dec. 4 ...What we are watching in Canada ...Premier Doug Ford is expected to unveil Ontario's COVID-19 vaccine task force today.Ford said yesterday the team is being finalized and the province will be ready to distribute the vaccine whenever it arrives.The task force will include medical, information technology, and logistics experts.Earlier this month, the province announced retired Gen. Rick Hillier will lead the task force. Health Minister Christine Elliott says the team will also include a bioethicist who will make recommendations about who should receive access to the vaccine first. The province's chief medical officer of health has also said some regions of the province could be moved today into further restricted measures in the province's pandemic response.\---Also this ...Statistics Canada will say this morning how Canada's job market fared last month as COVID-19 case counts rose along with a new round of public health restrictions.The labour force has clawed back about three-quarters of the three million jobs lost during lockdowns in March and April.The country has seen six consecutive months of job increases since then, but the pace of gains slowed between September and October.Expectations for November is that the country will eke out another gain.\---What we are watching in the U.S. ...Joe Biden says he will ask Americans to commit to 100 days of wearing masks as one of his first acts as president, stopping just short of the nationwide mandate he's pushed before to stop the spread of the coronavirus.The move marks a notable shift from U.S. President Donald Trump, whose own skepticism of mask-wearing has contributed to a politicization of the issue. That's made many people reticent to embrace a practice that public health experts say is one of the easiest ways to manage the pandemic, which has killed more than 275,000 Americans.The president-elect has frequently emphasized mask-wearing as a "patriotic duty" and during the campaign floated the idea of instituting a nationwide mask mandate, which he later acknowledged would be beyond the ability of the president to enforce.Speaking with CNN's Jake Tapper, Biden said he would make the request of Americans on inauguration day, Jan. 20."On the first day I'm inaugurated, I'm going to ask the public for 100 days to mask. Just 100 days to mask — not forever, just 100 days. And I think we'll see a significant reduction" in the virus, Biden said.Biden also said he asked Dr. Anthony Fauci to stay on in his administration, "in the exact same role he's had for the past several presidents," as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the nation's top infectious-disease expert.\---What we are watching in the rest of the world ...Four people died following an explosion in a silo that holds treated biosolids at a wastewater treatment plant near the southwest England city of Bristol, police said Thursday.Three Wessex Water employees and one contractor died in the incident, which is not being treated as terror-related, Avon and Somerset Police Chief Inspector Mark Runacres said at a media briefing. A fifth person was injured during the explosion at the plant in the industrial area of Avonmouth, but the injuries are not considered life-threatening, Runacres said."The fire service led the rescue operation but sadly, despite the best efforts of all those involved, we can confirm there have been four fatalities," he said.Runacres would not speculate on the cause of the explosion. He said it took place in a silo holding organic matter from sewage before it "is recycled to land as an organic soil conditioner."He said the explosion did not create any ongoing concerns for public safety.British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said "our hearts go out" to the victims and their families.\---On this day in 2008 ...Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean granted an unprecedented request from Prime Minister Stephen Harper to suspend Parliament until late January, a move that avoided a non-confidence vote set for Dec. 8, that would have brought down the minority Conservative government.\---In entertainment ...Quebec pianist and composer Andre Gagnon has died at the age of 84 from Lewy body disease, a neurodegenerative disorder.During a career spanning 40 years, Gagnon embraced many styles from baroque, to classical and disco.Born in Saint-Pacome-de-Kamouraska, on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River on Aug. 2, 1936, Gagnon composed from the age of six. After attending the Montreal Conservatory of Music, he studied in Paris after obtaining a grant from the Quebec government.The following year, in 1962, the jack-of-all-trades musician became Claude Leveillee's official accompanist until 1969. He also worked with other singers, including Jacques Blanchet, Pierre Calve, Renee Claude, Claude Gauthier, Pauline Julien, Pierre Letourneau, Monique Leyrac.\---ICYMI ...Just days after the discovery of a large party in one of its rental properties, Airbnb says it has a plan to curb New Year’s Eve parties this year while Canada works to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.In addition to its ongoing ban on parties, Airbnb now says guests will need a history of positive reviews on its app to reserve an entire home for New Year’s Eve in Canada. The policy also extends to the U.S., Mexico, Australia, the U.K., France and Spain."We believe this plan will help prevent large gatherings while supporting the type of safe, responsible travel that benefits guests, hosts and the neighbourhoods they call home," the company said. Airbnb is making an exception for one-night bookings made up to Tuesday, based on data that suggest bookings made before early December rarely involve parties.\---This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020The Canadian Press
Northern Health has already received more influenza vaccines in 2020 than it administered during the whole flu season last year, with more vaccines on the way, according to a spokesperson for the health authority. “There's been more interest in people getting their flu shot this year,” said Eryn Collins of Northern Health last week. “People were quite motivated.” As of late November, the Ministry of Health had distributed more than two million flu shots to health authorities across the province, with about 77,000 doses allotted to the north. Last year, Northern Health distributed about 66,500 shots during the entire 2019/20 influenza season, which typically runs about November until early spring. “We're doing record numbers of immunizations against influenza,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix last month. As of Nov. 23, more than 1 million of the vaccines that had been distributed in the province were administered in arms, said Dix. More updated numbers were not available as there is a time lag between shots given and when they are reported to public health. So far, more than 800,000 of the shots were given in the province by pharmacists, representing an increase of 300,000 shots compared to the same time last year, Dix said. Primary care providers had administered 100,000 more flu vaccines in 2020 than by the same date in 2019 in B.C., he said. “This is an extraordinary achievement,” said Dix. Initially, public health officials recommended those who were highest risk should get their shots first, including seniors, people with chronic diseases, essential workers and others who could potentially transmit the flu to people vulnerable to infection. “Those are well underway,” said Collins and everybody is encouraged to book an appointment with a flu clinic, local pharmacist, or primary care provider, depending where the vaccine is available in each community. Initial heavy demand for the vaccine created temporary shortages in different parts of the north, but more vaccine doses are expected in December and additional clinic opportunities will be available, Collins said. “Even though the current levels of flu activity in BC are extremely low right now, it is a very potentially serious illness for a lot of people,” said Collins. Northern Health recommends people most at risk for severe symptoms due to the flu should get vaccinated, including those with heart, autoimmune, kidney, liver, and metabolic diseases such as diabetes, cancer patients, seniors, people who are obese, pregnant women, children under 5 years old, Indigenous people, and people working with poultry. Front line healthcare workers, visitors to long-term care or assisted living facilities, people living with high-risk individuals, and first responders are also encouraged to get the vaccine. “It's never too late to get your flu shot,” said Collins. “Getting your flu shot now gives you the immunity that will carry you through influenza season.” For more information, go to immunizebc.ca. Fran@thegoatnews.ca / @FranYanorFran Yanor, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Rocky Mountain Goat
This column is an opinion from Graham Thomson, an award-winning journalist who has covered Alberta politics for more than 30 years.Buried amidst the ongoing COVID confusion and controversy this week in Alberta came a bit of unusual news: the UCP government and NDP opposition agreed on something.It wasn't exactly a Kumbaya moment but the two battling political parties that have turned the legislature's daily question period into a form of trench warfare finally see eye-to-eye on an issue.They're both unhappy with the announcement on Monday from federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland involving much-anticipated changes to the fiscal stabilization program that provides money to provinces experiencing a significant drop in revenue year-over-year.Alberta, of course, has been experiencing chronic revenue drops year-over-year-over-year. Because of a series of bad years topped off by a COVID-19 pandemic, Alberta's revenue ride is less like a roller coaster and more like the Drop of Doom.The fiscal stabilization program wasn't designed for that kind of multi-billion-dollar collapse in revenues.In 2016, for example, the Alberta government under the NDP complained that it lost $6.5 billion in revenue because of low oil prices but only received $250 million from the stabilization program that was capped at $60 per provincial resident.After forming government in 2019, the United Conservative Party took up the fight and this year demanded $4 billion instead of the $266 million offered. Not only that, the UCP wanted the higher stabilization payments to be retroactive to 2015.On Monday, Freeland announced the cap is being hiked to $170 per capita, meaning the province is now entitled to receive $750 million this year. But the payments will not be retroactive."[I am] very disappointed that the caps weren't lifted entirely," said Finance Minister Travis Toews. "It really doesn't go far enough."For her part, NDP Leader Rachel Notley sounded like a clone of Toews: "I would continue to advocate for the removal of the cap and I would also suggest that this should be retroactive to when Alberta deserved a fair fiscal stabilization formula in the first place."But the fight to remove the cap completely has gone from difficult to impossible because of the pandemic.WATCH | Alberta politicians unhappy with federal stabilization changesThis year, every province will probably be applying for aid under the stabilization program. Ottawa, already neck-deep in pandemic debt, would be swamped with billions of new claims under a sky's-the-limit fiscal stabilization program.And, besides, premiers who had been supporting Jason Kenney's call for a capless program will likely be happy enough to receive almost triple the amount of money than was available under the old formula.Change of heartBut Kenney's disappointment with Ottawa on Monday shifted to satisfaction on Wednesday.He performed such a sudden change in direction he might need a neck brace for whiplash. But that's the kind loopy politics you get during a pandemic.On Monday, the issue was money.On Wednesday, it was a COVID-19 vaccine."We've been assured by the federal government that shipments will begin to arrive by Jan. 4 and continue to arrive in waves throughout the early part of next year," said Kenney, putting the kind of faith in the federal government apparently not shared by federal Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole.Setting a firm timeline for a vaccine rollout is not particularly risky for Kenney. If the plan works, great. Albertans might be happy enough that Kenney sees his approval ratings start to rise after a year of steady decline. If the vaccines don't arrive on time, Kenney can blame Ottawa yet again for Alberta's problems.Of course, a third scenario is Ottawa delivers the vaccine as promised but Alberta has trouble with the logistics of getting Albertans vaccinated.To that end, Kenney has called in the military — sort of. He has appointed Paul Wynnyk, the deputy minister of municipal affairs and a former general in the Canadian Forces, to lead the province's vaccine task force.In the meantime, as Alberta continues to lead the country in COVID cases, playing in the background is a plan to call on the federal government and Red Cross to set up emergency hospitals should the virus overwhelm our health-care system.Kenney is still trying to spin a positive tale out of the distressing pandemic reality, still trusting that Albertans will take personal responsibility to flatten the curve, still insisting there is "light at the end of the tunnel."But that light might just be a Red Cross truck coming with a field hospital to house Alberta's ever growing number of pandemic patients.
There are new reports that the U.S. Justice Department is working on a deal that would allow Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou to return to China. Meng was arrested on a U.S. warrant in 2018.
For more than three decades, CBC Vancouver's annual Open House and Food Bank Day has raised money for those in need, and the tradition continues Friday — with a safety-promoting twist.This year, the fundraising festivities have been adapted so you can watch special broadcasts, meet your favourite CBC British Columbia hosts virtually, and donate to Food Banks B.C. all from the comfort of your home.The day's programming has ended, but you can continue to donate through the night and all weekend.So far, the event has already raised $1,756,100.To donate now, visit www.FoodbanksBC.com and click on the CBC Open House in Your House image.In 2019, over $1 million was raised, bringing the 33-year total to $10 million — and this year, the need is greater than ever.Since the start of the pandemic, over 50 per cent of provincial food banks have reported an increase in demand.Many of us have been affected financially by the pandemic, limiting us in ways we might traditionally contribute. But there are many opportunities to spread generosity and kindness aside from making monetary donations.New for 2020, in addition to raising funds for local food banks, CBC Vancouver will be encouraging acts of kindness in the community to spread goodwill and cheer during an especially challenging holiday season.For ideas and inspiration for your generous act, go here.You can also visit the Food Banks B.C. website to find your local food banks and learn about volunteer opportunities available in your community.
The cellphone video shot in the dark by a woman in a parked car appeared to show something ominous: a man closing the doors of a white van and then rolling a wagon with a large box into a Detroit election centre.Within hours, the 90-second clip was being shared on news sites and conservative YouTube accounts, offered as apparent proof that illegal votes were being smuggled in after polls closed. Prominent Republicans, including Eric Trump, one of the president’s sons, amplified the falsehoods on social media. Within a day, views of the video shot up past a million.That single video serves as a powerful emblem of the trafficking in false information that has plagued the presidential election won by Joe Biden. In other videos, photos, and social media posts, supporters of President Donald Trump, and most notably the incumbent himself, have raised doubts about the outcome based on problems that did not occur.Though the clip was quickly discredited by news organizations and public officials — the man depicted was a photojournalist hauling camera equipment, not illegal votes — to many viewers it had its intended effect.Eric Hainline, a UPS driver from Dayton, Ohio, said that video and others he watched like it reinforced his suspicions that the election was stolen from Trump.“You don’t know who to believe anymore,” said Hainline, 44. “I think the trust people have is broken.”Trump and his allies have fomented the idea of a “rigged election” for months, promoting falsehoods through various media and even lawsuits about fraudulent votes and dead voters casting ballots.While the details of these spurious allegations may fade over time, the scar it leaves on American democracy could take years to heal.“There will always be people who believe the Democrats stole the election in 2020,” said Jennifer Mercieca, a historian of political rhetoric at Texas A&M University. “That will not change.”In fact, there is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. Election officials confirmed there were no serious irregularities and the election went well. Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday the Justice Department has not identified voter fraud that would change the presidential election.But from the Oval Office, Trump has consistently tried to mislead the nation about the outcome. As a result, cries of voter fraud have persisted loudly in an online media ecosystem where pro-Trump Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and fringe websites readily circulate unchecked or misleading claims about the voting process.And one of those falsehoods sprang from the cellphone camera of Kelly SoRelle, a Republican from Texas. After shooting her video of the man with a wagon in Detroit, SoRelle took it to a conservative YouTube host who played it for his show’s 5 million subscribers the day after the election. She also gave it to the Texas Scorecard, a website started by Empower Texans, a lobbying group whose PAC has pumped millions of dollars into the campaigns of ultra-conservative candidates. SoRelle did not respond to requests for comment.Over the next week, there were nearly 150,000 mentions of wagons, suitcases or coolers of votes in broadcast scripts, blogs and on public Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts, according to an analysis that media intelligence firm Zignal Labs conducted for the AP. Mentions of the story began to fizzle out on Nov. 5, after news organizations fact-checked the claims, Zignal Labs' report found.By then, however, many of those fringe websites and Trump associates were busy peddling new claims of voter fraud online.Some claimed 100,000 ballots were “magically found” in Milwaukee at 3 a.m. when, in reality, the city’s election director, escorted by police, had just delivered thumb drives of data with the count of roughly 169,000 absentee ballots to the county courthouse so the results could be uploaded. Others suggested that Dominion Voting Systems, one of the country’s most widely used voting technology firms deleted or switched votes — an impossible feat that never happened, the company says, a finding confirmed by the federal agency that oversees election security.Meanwhile, in lawsuits, tweets and Facebook posts, the Trump campaign started naming voters in Georgia, Nevada and Michigan they believed were dead. Among them was Mrs. James E. Blalock, a Georgia widow who registered to vote using her married name and is alive.In Georgia, where Biden won, other false claims that computers deleted Trump votes or ballots were tossed into the garbage have littered social media feeds. Fellow Republicans, including the president, accused Georgia’s GOP secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, of being a “liar” who failed to root out “illegal” votes in the state.“There are those who are exploiting the emotions of many Trump supporters with fantastic claims, half-truths, misinformation and, frankly, they’re misleading the president as well, apparently,” Raffensperger said Monday.The social media platforms have tried to slow the reach of some of those falsehoods. Twitter and Facebook have also fact-checked false claims on their sites. Since Election Day, Twitter has flagged more than 100 of the president’s tweets about the vote, some of which it prohibited users from sharing, commenting on or liking. Facebook has labeled the president’s misleading posts but not limited users’ ability to spread the falsehoods across its platform. On Wednesday, Trump used Twitter and Facebook to deliver a 46-minute diatribe of misstatements about the election to his collective following of 100 million users on the two platforms.A sizable majority of Trump backers still believes the election was stolen. A survey last month by Monmouth University found that almost one-third of Americans, and more than 75% of Trump supporters, believe Biden only won because of fraud.Myra C. Ruiz, 77, is one of those Trump supporters who believes the president was cheated.“I heard two days ago that Trump said he didn’t lose this election; it was taken from him,” said Ruiz, who lives in New Orleans.Amanda Seitz And David Klepper, The Associated Press
OAKVILLE, Ont. — A driver has been charged in the death of a woman who was struck while walking her dog in Oakville, Ont. Halton Regional Police say the fatal collision happened Thursday afternoon. The 51-year-old and her dog were pronounced dead at the scene. Investigators determined the victim was walking her dog on a path when they were hit by the vehicle that had left the roadway. After hitting the pedestrian and her pet, police say the driver struck a stone post before the vehicle came to rest in the road. The driver, a man in his 50s from Oakville, has been arrested for impaired operation and dangerous driving causing death. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020. The Canadian Press
The clipper is buzzing, the scissors cutting, the phone is ringing off the hook.Rick Harris is busy at work, but won't be much longer. On Christmas Eve, he's closing the doors of Harris's Barbershop in St. John's, bringing an end to a family business that was founded 115 years ago. "I always said, 'When the time came, I'd know.' I'm starting to feel a bit tired, a bit weary of it all. So I figure it's time to go while I still got a bit of health and strength and enjoy a bit of life," Harris said, while looking after the hair of a long-time customer.Richard Harris, his father, started the business in 1905, and over the years the shop has operated from several parts of downtown St. John's. It was originally located on New Gower Street, then moved to nearby Brazil Square in April 1977 before ultimately settling on Casey Street, where it's been since 1984.Harris owns and operates the business, where it all began for him as a boy sweeping the floors of his father's shop. He was later promoted to a barber at 18 — 54 years ago."I'm not going to be around until I'm 96 like my dad was, so I better do it now."Harris looks back on the legacy of his family business as it crossed through generations of customers. He said people were less open to talking about their personal lives while sitting in his chair in the old days. And the esthetic was drastically different than what it is today. "There was all kinds of cigarette smoke, and cigar smoke and tobacco smoke, rum. It was all part of the barbershop," he said. "It was more of a family affair really. I think our shop was the place to go, basically. It was a hang out. ... That was one thing we always had, was a good bunch of people around the shop."There was constantly a game of chess happening, Harris remembers, a game his father studied and played against his customers who ranged from United States service members to whaling boat captains. WATCH | Rick Harris reflects on his decision to wind down a family business that has been a mainstay in downtown St. John's for well over a century: Today he feels sadness, Harris said, but contentment as the legacy is slowly drawing to its end. "I don't know what I'll do with my time, but I guess I'll find something," he said. A final sendoffHarris estimates he cuts about 5,000 heads of hair in a typical year, and says he's cut five generations of hair in one family.As Harris looks to throw the switch and lock the doors for the last time on Christmas Eve, his final customer after a long career makes for a proper sendoff. His final cut will be for Randy Gulliver, the son of his first-ever customer."I was probably five or six years old [when] I started going to Harris's," Gulliver told CBC News. "It was back in the early Sixties, Rick's father was the first one who cut my hair. The first haircut that Rick ever cut was my dad's, I think around 1966 or '67 … I was only a small boy. We lived on Brazil Square and it was just around the corner."Gulliver said the shop had four barbers' chairs when he first started going, and he's been going to the Harris family business for haircuts his entire life, in each location, up until what will be his final cut on Dec. 24.He said the Harris family were the only people to ever cut his hair. "I don't know what I'm going to do when he moves," Gulliver said, laughing. "I'm going to have long hair. ... It will be a sad day to see Rick give up the barbershop, let me tell you."Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Born in a church manse on Vancouver's Beatty Street on March 28, 1916, Fred Ko's long life was defined by quiet fortitude and his connections to the people and places around him.Ko died in Richmond Hospital on Saturday from COVID-19. At 104 years old, he is one of the oldest Canadian victims of the pandemic."He was just a super-optimistic, very gentle soul," said his daughter Alison Ko, who lives in Kimberley, B.C. "Everybody calls him the Buddha."Fred Ko had two daughters, a son and two grandsons, but Alison says he was a grandfather to many more."He's the grandpa to all [my sons'] friends and all my friends."She recalls a time her father's generosity and patience stood out when Alison and her sister, Catherine, returned home late from a party."He would be sitting up in the kitchen reading and we'd walk in the door and he would just go, 'Tsk tsk tsk,' and not say a word, close his magazine and walk up the stairs." Advocate for Chinese CanadiansFred Ko was the third child born to Chinese Canadian parents in Vancouver. The family started out with a printing press that produced the first Chinese telephone book, and later opened gift shops in Toronto and Vancouver.While her father was humble, Alison Ko says he sometimes gave hints of the influence he had on the Chinese community.Her cousins told stories of hanging out at his store and seeing members of parliament stop by to see Fred.Once, at a family gathering, he let slip that he had negotiated with former prime minister John Diefenbaker over immigration rights."But he just looked like the guy who sat at a coffee shop," Alison Ko said. She says her father never spoke about experiencing racism until the recent Black Lives Matter protests."He was like, 'Oh, yeah, we went through hard times, too,' but growing up we had no idea about the challenges that they would have had because of racism."'It was so fast'The pandemic was hard on Fred Ko. His daughter says his usual routine of getting up early to go for walks around the malls ended and he lost much of his physical strength."And then he lost a lot of kind of that spark," said Alison Ko. "He would tell me that, 'I hear the words and I know them, but I don't understand them.'"Ko had been living in Richmond with Catherine for the last 10 years before contracting the virus last month from someone who lived in the same building.Alison Ko says her father's passing still feels surreal, despite his age."It's not really a surprise that at 104 life was going to come to an end, but we just didn't think he would," she said. "And all our relatives and our families just thought Fred will get through this. But it was so fast."Once Ko was hospitalized, his three children and two grandchildren were only able to communicate with him by video calls.That's how they said goodbye as he died on Nov. 28."We sat staring at a screen, watching him take his last breath and I didn't even believe it."Fred Ko's death has made his family reflect even more on their own vulnerabilities to the virus. Alison, who has a background in nursing and works on the opioid crisis, says it hit her when she was called to the front line to respond to an overdose earlier this week.Despite the toll the pandemic restrictions took on him, she says her father never complained."He was of the generation that knew that he needed to put everybody else like the community's needs first."
Marco Arop believes it's the best he's ever felt through 600 metres of a race. But near the home stretch of a men's 800 event in August, the Canadian runner sensed his lead slipping away, felt the shoulder of American Donavan Brazier brush against his and panicked. Arop's body tightened up while Brazier, the world's top-ranked 800 runner, accelerated on the outside down the straightway at a sun-drenched Stockholm Olympic Stadium to another victory in a pandemic-shortened season. "Sometimes in a race, if you push too hard it ends up slowing you down," Arop said over the phone this week from Starkville, Miss. "No matter how comfortable I am, when I see someone pass me, I have to stay comfortable and not be too reactive. "Since my first collegiate season, there have been a lot of races when I would have a good 600 metres and the final 100 would get me. I was always told if I had a strong base [of a training program] I would be able to finish stronger." To that end, Arop has worked on improving his physical strength the past three months with Mississippi State University head track and field coach Chris Woods, with weekly 13-kilometre runs, weight training and circuits — sets of 400 to 1,000-metre runs in combination with other exercises. WATCH | Marco Arop places 2nd behind reigning 800m world champ: Arop has emphasized more volume in his workouts and a greater focus on recovery at the rest stage to prevent injury. For example, if he does repeat runs of 1,000, Arop might swim the next day for recovery and follow that with a 20 to 40-minute fartlek — a period of fast running intermixed with periods of slower running. For his Saturday long runs on a grass field or gravel trail, the 22-year-old has started at a six-minute 40-second pace per mile and gradually increased his speed to clock a 6-flat pace at the halfway mark ahead of a strong finish. "Before, I'd probably start at 6:40 and go slower towards the end, finishing at around a 7:30 [pace]. I'm now able to pick up the pace," said the six-foot-four Arop, who trains six days a week and has added five pounds to his regular racing weight of 175. "My body is holding up well. I feel stronger and more fit to run faster for longer periods of time." Beating higher-ranked opponents Woods, who also coached Arop before the three-time All-American announced last December he was foregoing his NCAA eligibility to turn pro, has been encouraged by the runner's consistency in training. "I am excited to see what he is capable of doing once we start doing things more specific to his race," Woods said. "He's been in this sport for such a short time and there's several things we haven't been able to get to because we don't want to rush his growth and potentially get injured." I truly believe Marco is one of the best 800 [metre] runners on the planet and I hope we can showcase that during the [Tokyo] Olympic Games. — Chris Woods, Mississippi State University head track and field coach Still, the 15th-ranked Arop, who didn't start running seriously until he was 17 in his final year of high school in Edmonton, was able to get out strong in races in 2020, take the lead against Brazier and beat top-six runners Ferguson Cheruiyot Rotich of Kenya, Amel Tuka of Bosnia and Puerto Rico's Wesley Vázquez. "They're amazing runners and to be in the same conversation as them does give me a lot of confidence going into next year," Arop said. "I'm hoping to surprise [Brazier] in the upcoming season. I do respect him as a runner and I want to give him my best shot when the time comes." Arop also shaved four seconds off many of his early 2019 performances to a personal-best 1:44.14, a time that falls below the 1:45.20 Tokyo Olympic standard and one he feels could have been lowered by "maybe" another second. WATCH | Arop sets personal-best time in Monaco: The Business Information Systems major understands he's now among the sport's elite, which includes world No. 4 and Canadian record holder Brandon McBride of Windsor, Ont. Early in 2019, the Sudan-born Arop recovered from a hamstring injury and enjoyed a breakout season that featured a Pan Am gold medal and seventh-place finish in his world final debut last October in Doha, Qatar. 'The sky is truly the limit for this young man' Right now, Woods said, there isn't a ceiling to the 2018 Canadian champion's potential. "I truly believe Marco is one of the best 800 [metre] runners on the planet," he said, "and I hope we can showcase that during the Olympic Games [next summer]. Not to be cliché, but the sky truly is the limit for this young man." At the insistence of his parents and four brothers, all of whom contracted the coronavirus in September, Arop will stay in Mississippi through the Christmas holiday season to build upon the momentum of his fall training. "They know how important it is for me to have a training period through the winter [entering an Olympic year]. I went home a year ago and got the flu which put a stop to my training for about two weeks and the next month was spent regaining my fitness," he said. "It's very common for my mom to have a cold and she was the most at-risk [for COVID-19] having diabetes and high blood pressure. I'm just thankful they all came out of it fine. "It was a reflective time for me, to not take little moments for granted. It was a reminder to make sure when I talk to them to tell them how I feel and check in with them as much as I can."
NEW DELHI — A chilly breeze whirls through New Delhi in the mornings and the sun is partly obscured by toxic haze, a marker of another winter in the Indian capital. But along the city's borders, this year is visibly and viscerally different.The perpetually busy arterial highways that connect most northern Indian towns to this city of 29 million people now pulse to the cries of “Inquilab Zindabad” — “Long live the revolution.” Tens and thousands of farmers with distinctive, colorful turbans and long, flowing beards have descended upon the city's borders, choking highways in giant demonstrations against new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation.For more than a week, they’ve marched toward the capital on their tractors and trucks like an army, pushing aside concrete police barricades while braving tear gas, batons and water cannons. Now, on the outskirts of New Delhi, they are hunkered down with food and fuel supplies that can last weeks and threatening to besiege the capital if Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government doesn't meet their demands to abolish the laws.“Modi wants to sell our lands to corporates,” said one of them, Kaljeet Singh, 31, who travelled from Ludhiana city in Punjab, some 310 kilometres (190 miles) north of New Delhi. “He can’t decide for millions of those who for generations have given their blood and sweat to the land they regard as more precious than their lives.”At night, the farmers sleep in trailers and under trucks, curling themselves in blankets to brave the winter chill. During the day, they sit huddled in groups in their vehicles, surrounded by mounds of rice, lentils and vegetables that are prepared into meals at hundreds of makeshift soup kitchens, in enormous pots stirred with wooden spoons the size of canoe paddles.Anmol Singh, 33, who supports his family of six by farming, said the new laws were part of a larger plan to hand over the farmers' land to big corporations and make them landless.“Modi wants the poor farmer to die of hunger so that he can fill the stomachs of his rich friends,” he said. “We are here to fight his brutal decrees peacefully.”He paused, then reconsidered: “Actually, let him and his ministers take us on. We will give them a bloody nose.”Many of the protesting farmers hail from northern Punjab and Haryana, two of the largest agricultural states in India. An overwhelming majority of them are Sikhs. They fear the laws passed in September will lead the government to stop buying grain at minimum guaranteed prices and result in exploitation by corporations who will push down prices. Many activists and farming experts support their demand for a minimum guaranteed price for their crops.The new rules will also eliminate agents who act as middlemen between the farmers and the government-regulated wholesale markets. Farmers say agents are a vital cog of the farm economy and their main line of credit, providing quick funds for fuel, fertilizers and even loans in case of family emergencies.The laws have compounded existing resentment from farmers, who often complain of being ignored by the government in their push for better crop prices, additional loan waivers and irrigation systems to guarantee water during dry spells.The government has argued the laws bring about necessary reform that will allow farmers to market their produce and boost production through private investment. But farmers say they were never consulted.With nearly 60% of the Indian population depending on agriculture for their livelihoods, the growing farmer rebellion has rattled Modi’s administration and allies. His leaders have scrambled to contain the protests, which are fast resembling last year’s scenes when a contentious new citizenship law that discriminated against Muslims led to demonstrations that culminated in violence.Those demonstrations were much bigger in scale, but the farmers' rumblings are growing fast and gaining widespread support of ordinary citizens who have started joining them in large numbers.Modi and his allies have tried to allay farmers’ fears about the new laws while dismissing their concerns. Some of his party leaders have called the farmers “misguided” and “anti-national,” a label often given to those who criticize Modi or his policies.The government is holding talks with the farmers to persuade them to end their protests, but they have dug in their heels.Farmer Kulwant Singh, 72, said that when he left his home in Haryana for the protests, he gave his wife a garland of flowers for two possible scenarios.“Either I return victorious and she places it around my neck in celebration, or I die here revolting and the same garland is put on my body when it reaches home,” Singh said.Such passions run deep among the protesters who have found social, economic and generational barriers tumbling during the demonstrations.Singh isn't the only one from his family who travelled to New Delhi for what he called “Qilah Fatehi," an Urdu term that translates to “laying a siege.” His son and grandson also accompanied him.“It's a fight for my generation too,” said Amrinder Singh, 16.As demonstrations grow, the protesters have also started to drive a political message home.Not satisfied with Modi's federal policies, many of which have attracted widescale resentment from his critics and minorities, protesting farmers say it's time he stops what they call his “dictatorial behaviour.”“India is in a recession. There are hardly any jobs and our country's secular fabric is in tatters,” said Gurpreet Singh, 26, a biotechnology student who comes from a farming family. “At a time when India needs a healing touch, Modi is coming up with divisive, controversial laws. This is unacceptable and defies our constitutional values.”Modi's second term in power since May 2019 has been marked by several convulsions. The economy has tanked, social strife widened, protests have erupted against discriminatory laws and his government has been questioned over its response to the pandemic.The farmer protests present a new challenge for the government.The protesters' desire to stand up to Modi and his policies extends to a sexagenarian farmer couple who drove 250 kilometres (155 miles) from Chandigarh city in a hatchback Sunday to participate in the demonstrations.Dharam Singh Sandhu, 67, and Vimaljeet Kaur, 66, are spending nights in their car parked near the protest site. In the morning, they share breakfast at a makeshift soup kitchen. The latter part of the day is spent taking part in the demonstrations.“Our land is our mother. If we can’t protect it then we have no right to live," Sandhu said about the protests.His wife spoke passionately of a larger purpose as she made her way to the protest site through a stream of vehicles honking incessantly to get past congested traffic.“Our country is like a bunch of flowers, but Modi wants it to be of the same colour. He has no right to do that. I am here to protest against that mindset," Kaur said.As Kaur walked hand in hand with her husband, a great cry emerged from one of the vehicles: “Inquilab Zindabad.”The crowd turned and followed their gaze toward a young man with a black beard who held up his fist through the car's window.The protesters, including Kaur, roared back: “Inquilab Zindabad!"Sheikh Saaliq, The Associated Press
The Nihtat Gwich'in Council is going to court in an attempt to stop the N.W.T. government's proposal to build a wind turbine near Inuvik. The Gwich'in Land and Water Board approved a water licence and land use permit for the Inuvik Wind Project on Nov. 27, the same day the Nihtat Gwich'in Council asked the N.W.T. Supreme Court to overturn an earlier board decision on the project.NT Energy, a sister company of the Northwest Territories Power Corporation, wants to build a single wind turbine in an area known as Highpoint, 12 kilometres east of Inuvik. The hub of the massive turbine would be 75 to 100 meters tall.In January, the Nihtat Gwich'in Council argued that the project is located on lands that have long been set aside for reindeer grazing. Established in December 1933, the reindeer reserve is a 17,094-square-kilometre tract of land east of the Mackenzie Delta.Placing a turbine project on the area would contravene their land agreement, Nihtat Gwich'in Council leaders said, and requested the land and water board rule the corporation failed to establish a lawful right to occupy the land.But the Gwich'in Land and Water Board disagreed and, in an October decision, ruled the corporation had a right to occupy the lands and the that permit was valid.The Inuvik Wind Project was originally proposed in 2018, after the viability of the project was studied by the Aurora Research Institute. Shortly after, the power corporation submitted an application and asked for a permit to build and operate a wind farm — along with an all-season access road — to the territorial and federal governments with the hope of seeing the project completed by fall of 2020. According to the decision document, the plan is for NT Energy to build the project on behalf of the government, then transfer the complete project to NT Hydro (the parent company of both NT Energy and the Northwest Territories Power Corporation) to deliver renewable energy, significant fossil fuel displacement, and improve rate stability for 25 thermal zone communities. Going to the Supreme Court, the Nihtat Gwich'in Council called the board's decision to allow the project a "worrying precedent" for the management of public lands.In the application, the Nihtat Gwich'in Council said there were several errors in the board's decision, including allowing a lack of consultation from the government and deciding the government has ownership over the land. The matter is set to be heard before a Supreme Court judge in January 2021.
A new tenants rights group in the province hopes to help renters navigate the rules and regulations of renting, and work to change those rules."New Brunswick is far behind as compared to other provinces in terms of what kinds of protections are afforded to tenants," said one of the group's organizers, Aditya Rao. The New Brunswick Coalition for Tenants Rights was formed by a group of renters. "Tenants in New Brunswick have far fewer rights than almost anywhere else in the country. We've seen this to be quite clear over the last several weeks with stories about rent increases and evictions," said Rao. The coalition is currently calling for a moratorium on all evictions during the pandemic.In Thursday's news conference, Premier Blaine Higgs was asked about the number of evictions renters have faced this year. "They're currently lower than in previous years," he said.While Service New Brunswick has received 1,525 eviction requests in the first 10 months of this year (2,518 in 2019 and 1,688 in 2018), it doesn't track lease terminations, which are used in many cases to remove a tenant, for reasons such as renovations. Rao said it's a practice he's been hearing is used often. The group wants to institute regulations that would ensure inspections are done regularly at rental properties. "So that they cannot get to the point that they're so dilapidated that tenants need to be unhoused in order for the apartment to be fixed," he said.Higgs said his government is in talks with landlords in an effort to understand the rental situation in the province. Low housing availability has become a big problem in the province's three major cities, with Fredericton's vacancy rate at about 1.4 per cent. "We know that there are new buildings going up," said Higgs. "We know that renovations are going on in apartments. But we're being told by the landlords that … the rental rate increases are low. We will pursue to understand that before we act on a policy that may have been necessary somewhere else, and may, or may not be necessary here."Rao said the coalition will be launching policy proposals over the next few weeks. "We're calling on the government to significantly overhaul the Residential Tenancies Act with a view to protecting tenants rights, including by instituting rent control, of course, but also by creating an eviction prevention program, among other things." On its website, the group is asking people to write their MLA's to add some of these reforms to the Act.
Pas moins de 102 résidants et membres du personnel du CHSLD Villa-Bonheur, à Granby, dans la région sociosanitaire de l'Estrie, sont infectés par la COVID-19, a révélé jeudi la santé publique régionale. Il s’agit de 29 de plus que le bilan de la veille. Selon les données du début de l’après-midi, 69 des 99 résidants ainsi que 33 employés ont la COVID-19. Deux résidants sont morts depuis le début de l’éclosion. Cette éclosion majeure survient au moment où l’Estrie a fracassé un sommet du nombre de cas quotidiens depuis le début de la pandémie. Selon l'état de la situation quotidien du ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux, 126 nouveaux cas ont été confirmés. Une zone chaude a notamment été aménagée au cinquième étage de l’établissement. Des résidants qui s’y trouvaient ont été déplacés sur d’autres étages et des patients atteints de la COVID-19 sont dirigés vers le Centre de confinement de Sherbrooke. Des dépistages massifs des membres du personnel et des résidants ont lieu depuis le premier cas actif au CHSLD Villa-Bonheur et d'autres dépistages massifs sont également prévus, a indiqué le CIUSSS de l'Estrie - CHUS dans un courriel à La Presse Canadienne. Des dépistages individuels sont également effectués entre les dépistages massifs dès l’apparition de symptômes chez des résidants ou des membres du personnel, selon le CIUSSS. Les employés qui sont testés positifs sont immédiatement retirés, les bonnes pratiques en prévention et en contrôle des infections sont appliquées et les visites sont restreintes aux proches aidants seulement, a précisé le porte-parole Félix Massé. La situation dans ce CHSLD est «très significative, importante», avait déclaré mercredi Sylvie Moreault, la directrice du soutien à l’autonomie des personnes âgées du CIUSSS de l’Estrie - CHUS, qui est notamment responsable des CHSLD. Mme Moreault avait alors estimé que la situation était toujours sous contrôle et avait assuré mettre «tout en place» pour la gérer efficacement. La directrice des ressources humaines, Josée Paquette, avait pour sa part reconnu que «sans contredit, la pression est extrêmement forte pour notre personnel». Il n'a pas été possible de savoir si le CIUSSS de l'Estrie - CHUS croit que la situation est toujours sous contrôle. L'organisation compte faire le point lors d'une conférence de presse lundi. \- Texte de l’Initiative de journalisme local.Michel Saba, Initiative de journalisme local, La Presse Canadienne