In "The X Change Rate," award-winning drag queen, entertainer and TV personality Monét X Change brings her signature wit, heart and style to BUILD Series. The fabulous host sat down to chat with actor Garrett Clayton and UK drag queen The Vivienne.
In "The X Change Rate," award-winning drag queen, entertainer and TV personality Monét X Change brings her signature wit, heart and style to BUILD Series. The fabulous host sat down to chat with actor Garrett Clayton and UK drag queen The Vivienne.
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden's pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget is quickly emerging as a political battle that could disrupt his efforts to swiftly fill out his administration.Some Republicans are expressing doubt that Neera Tanden could be confirmed by the Senate after she spent years attacking GOP lawmakers on social media — and many panned the choice.Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton claimed Tanden’s rhetoric was “Filled with hate & guided by the woke left.”Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said Tanden's “combative and insulting comments" about Republican senators created “certainly a problematic path." He called her “maybe (Biden's) worst nominee so far" and “radioactive.”Potential Budget Committee Chair Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was less hostile, telling reporters, “Let's see what happens." Moderate Susan Collins, R-Maine, a target of Tanden's, said, “I do not know her or much about her, but I've heard she's a very prolific user of Twitter.”Such sentiment is notable considering the GOP's general reluctance to criticize President Donald Trump's broadsides on Twitter. But like all of Biden's nominees, Tanden has little margin for error as she faces confirmation in a closely divided Senate.That could be especially daunting for Tanden, the former adviser to Hillary Clinton and the president of the centre-left Center for American Progress, given her history of political combat.Biden's transition team released a litany of praise for Tanden from figures including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.Other Democrats also rushed to defend Tanden's nomination. Former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett said Tanden “grew up on welfare and lived in public housing. She experienced first hand the importance of our social programs. Her extraordinary career has been devoted to improving opportunities for working families. She is an excellent choice to lead OMB.”“Neera Tanden is smart, experienced, and qualified for the position of OMB Director,” added Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a member of the party’s progressive wing. “The American people decisively voted for change - Mitch McConnell shouldn’t block us from having a functioning government that gets to work for the people we serve.”On the Senate floor, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said it's impossible to take Republicans' criticism of Tanden seriously.“Honestly, the hypocrisy is astounding. If Republicans are concerned about criticism on Twitter, their complaints are better directed at President Trump,” Schumer said.At OMB, Tanden would be responsible for preparing Biden’s budget submission and would command several hundred budget analysts, economists and policy advisers with deep knowledge of the inner workings of the government.If Democrats should win runoff elections for Georgia’s two GOP-held Senate seats, Tanden’s job would become hugely important because the party would gain a slim majority in the chamber. That would allow them to pass special budget legislation that could roll back Trump’s tax cuts, boost the Affordable Care Act and pursue other spending goals. OMB would have a central role in such legislation.Top Democrats, Biden included, supported anti-deficit packages earlier in their careers, but the party has since changed. Biden was a force behind the establishment of the Obama deficit commission, which was created to win votes of Democratic moderates to pass an increase in the government’s borrowing cap and was chaired by former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles.Tanden shares a commonly held view among Democratic lawmakers that Republicans usually profess concerns about deficits only when Democrats are in power, pointing to tax cut packages passed in the opening year of Trump’s administration and former President George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cut.___Taylor reported from Washington.Zeke Miller And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
An outbreak of COVID-19 cases, compounded by repeat power outages and abysmal weather, has forced an isolated Vancouver Island Indigenous community into lockdown.The Ehattesaht First Nation, home to about 100 people, is located on the northwest coast of the island near Zeballos, B.C. On Nov. 14, one positive case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the community following a four day power outage. Within a week, there were 16 cases and now half the residents are in isolation."We are learning some hard lessons and the best advice we can give to communities like ours is just to stay home — it's the only way we can keep people safe," said Chief Simon John in an interview on CBC's On The Island.John says while no one has been hospitalized yet, some people have been moved into hotels to be closer to medical services if they should need them.The North Island Hospital in Campbell River is almost three hours away by car. And the road in and out of Ehattesaht territory, which, John says, is well-maintained by the Ministry of Forests, can still easily be blocked by a downed tree or two.And it's a distinct possibility right now, as the region has been repeatedly battered by high winds and stormy weather in recent days, causing the community to already lose power twice while people are dealing with the impact of the virus.Environment Canada issued another wind warning for B.C.'s north coastal region Monday, warning that winds of up to 100 km/h are a possibility until Tuesday.COVID-19 exposing other issuesJohn said people in the community have rallied to provide food and what care they can for people isolated at home. He said the current situation may have a silver lining in that the pandemic is exposing issues the nation has been up against for years."It's a really good time to move a lot of our situations forward. Like, our health or even our connectivity to the world could change because of this," said John, adding he hopes the B.C. and Canadian government take notice and help.That help, he said, could include improving hydro and internet connections, as well as access to health services.John said the nation would also like to look at options to expand its land base so it can add more housing for its members. At present, he said many people are isolating in close quarters together.Four people in the community have recovered from COVID-19 so far, according to John.To hear the complete interview with Chief Simon John on CBC's On The Island, tap the audio link below:
VICTORIA — A former judge says she found widespread systemic racism in British Columbia's health-care system where extensive negative profiling of Indigenous patients affects treatment and care. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond said Monday she could not confirm allegations of an organized game to guess the blood-alcohol level of Indigenous patients in B.C. emergency departments, but found extensive harmful profiling of patients based on stereotypes about addictions and parenting. The former Saskatchewan provincial court judge and one-time children's advocate in B.C. was appointed by Health Minister Adrian Dix in June to investigate the guessing-game allegations and conduct a broader examination of Indigenous racism in provincial health care. "Indigenous people consistently told us, and this was confirmed by the health-care workers who responded and the cases, that they are subjected to negative assumptions, negative assumptions based on prejudice, based on racism, based on beliefs that should not exist in our health-care system," Turpel-Lafond said at a news conference. She said 84 per cent of the review's Indigenous respondents reported some form of discrimination in health care and 52 per cent of Indigenous health-care workers said they experienced racial prejudice at work, mostly in the form of comments. "Among the top negative assumptions that are circulating in our health-care system today is that Indigenous patients and people are less worthy," Turpel-Lafond said. "That they are alcoholics. That they're drug seeking." These negative assumptions lead to the denial and delay of patient services, and cause some people to stay away from hospitals to avoid further incidents of discriminatory treatment, she said. Indigenous people told the review they feared hospitals and would rather face uncertain health than return to get care, said Turpel-Lafond. The review heard from nearly 9,000 Indigenous patients, family members, third-party witnesses and health-care workers. It also examined the health-care data of about 185,000 First Nations and Metis patients. Turpel-Lafond's report makes 24 recommendations. They include bringing in measures and legislation to change behaviour and the appointment of three new positions to focus on the problem, including an Indigenous health officer and an associate deputy minister of Indigenous health. The report also said the government should work with Indigenous organizations to improve the patient complaint processes to address individual and systemic racism specifically experienced by Indigenous people, as well as create a new school of Indigenous medicine at the University of British Columbia. Dix said B.C. will work to implement the recommendations and the review's findings will be felt across the country. "Racism is toxic for people and it's toxic for care," he said. "I want to make an unequivocal apology as the minister of health to those who have experienced racism in accessing health-care services in B.C., now and in the past." The First Nations Leadership Council, comprising several B.C. Indigenous organizations and Metis Nation B.C., called on the government to act. "These are the voices of our families and our relatives and they have to be heard," Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said in a statement. "They can no longer be silenced by a narrative of indifference and negligence and a culture of low expectations." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
The new Strathmore municipal building is nearing completion, with the town finding solutions for a few remaining pieces. An update on the project was presented to town council on Nov. 18 by Michael Stamhuis, the town’s special projects manager. The project is now in its “substantial completion” stage, meaning the building and work site are sufficiently completed such that they can now be handed over to, and occupied by, the town. The cost of the building has been updated to total $14.48 million, $130,000 less than the cost projected in mid-October. The final project costs will be more than $400,000 below the funding allocated for the project, reported Stamhuis. A report will be forthcoming presenting suggestions for how this surplus may be allocated. One of the options would be to set aside an amount for any issues that may arise, he said. Some uncertainties remain for the project. “While the project is substantially completed, it is not totally complete; there are some outstanding items,” said Stamhuis, who added these include the installation of audio-visual equipment, signage and furniture. All tenders for furniture and audio-visual equipment have been received, the cost of which is less than the $850,000 allocated for these components. The cost estimate for soft costs and furniture, fixtures and equipment decreased by $21,000, to $2.325 million. The audio-visual equipment was to be stored in a closet within the council chambers, but the consultant said it would generate too much heat to be stored there safely. So, the town is considering either installing a ventilation system for the closet or moving the equipment to the server room. The estimated cost for site servicing and rehabilitation has been revised to $2.599 million, representing a decrease of $16,000 from previous estimates. This reduction is due to a decrease in staff salary allocation (by $6,000) and reconciliation of consultant fees ($10,000). The total cost of the Strathmore Commons and north Kinsmen improvements is $1.675 million, equaling a reduction of $92,000 from prior estimates. The town saved money on soil disposal because the soil from site clearing was used on-site and hauling costs were minimal, resulting in a $92,000 cost reduction. Also during the meeting, a report was presented to council illustrating how the municipal building project resulted in improvements to several of the town’s assets beyond the new building itself. This assessment determined that of the approximately $14.5 million spent on the municipal building project, about $3.1 million can be attributed to Kinsmen Park and other site improvements. As such, about $11.3 million can be attributed to the building itself. According to Strathmore Mayor Pat Fule, this second report gives a more accurate picture of the cost of the new town hall building. “Obviously, some of those assets are tied to the new building, but some of them benefit and are tied to other parts of that project,” he said. The town is planning on having staff move belongings into the new building in late December and begin working there in the new year.Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
CALGARY — An environmental law group has lost its bid to pause Alberta's inquiry into where critics of its oil and gas industry get their funding. Ecojustice sought an injunction in the summer to suspend the inquiry until there is a ruling on whether it is legal. Court of Queen's Bench Justice Karen Horner dismissed the application with costs on Friday. “The court’s decision, while disappointing, won’t stop Ecojustice from continuing to challenge the Kenney government’s inquiry into ‘anti-Alberta’ activities and expose it for the sham that it is," executive director Devon Page said in a statement Monday. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and his United Conservative government contend foreign interests have long been bankrolling campaigns against fossil fuel development. In 2019, forensic accountant Steve Allan was tapped to lead the $2.5-million inquiry. Allan's report was initially due in July, but after two extensions and a $1-million budget increase, it is now expected by Jan. 31. Energy Minister Sonya Savage must publish the final report within 90 days of receiving it. “The Government of Alberta is pleased to see the courts strike down a nuisance injunction application by Ecojustice designed to slow down the Public Inquiry into Foreign Funded Campaigns," Alberta Energy spokesman Kavi Bal said in a statement. Ecojustice filed a lawsuit last November alleging the inquiry is politically motivated, biased and outside provincial jurisdiction. "Its purpose really was to shut up opponents to Alberta oil and gas and it was something that was driven directly by the premier," Page said in an interview Monday. Ecojustice wanted Allan's work paused because if his findings were to be released before a court ruled on the lawsuit, environmental groups could suffer reputational harm in the meantime. Horner said in her decision that Ecojustice had to prove there is a serious issue to be tried, it would suffer irreparable harm if the injunction isn't granted and it would suffer greater harm than its opponent if the injunction is refused. The judge ruled Ecojustice satisfied the first test but failed the other two. "Mr. Page suggests that a risk of harm exists in the 'possibility' of being called to respond to the inquiry that may have no legal foundation. However, I am not convinced that a mere 'possibility' amounts to evidence of irreparable harm that is both clear and not speculative," Horner wrote. "The allegations of improper purpose, bias, and lack of jurisdiction are issues to be examined and resolved in the upcoming judicial review." The lawsuit was scheduled to be heard in April, but the COVID-19 pandemic put in on hold. Page said December or early-February hearing dates are now being discussed. Page, who has criticized the inquiry for its lack of transparency, said he's recently heard from groups who have received letters from Allan requesting clarification on publicly available tax information. "It just makes us more confused about what's going on." One Nov. 6 letter to a group, whose name had been removed because Page did not have their permission to publicize it, requested written or oral responses by Dec. 4. "Basically it looks like (Allan is) on a fishing expedition to get the information that he's had 18 months to accumulate," said Page. "So what's he been doing?" This report by The Canadian Press was first published November 30, 2020. Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Key elements from the federal government's fiscal update, delivered by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland Monday afternoon:A boatload of borrowing. The federal deficit is sailing toward $381.6 billion this year, but could close in on $400 billion if widespread lockdowns return in the coming weeks, according to the fall economic statement. A big reason for that eye-popping sum is the total cost of Ottawa's response to COVID-19, which amounts to $490.7 billion. That also means more than $8 out of every $10 in federal and provincial support comes from the capital, down from $9 out of every $10 from the July fiscal snapshot.The "Netflix tax." For the first time, Netflix and other foreign streaming giants such as Amazon and Apple TV+ will be subject to sales tax in Canada, according to the fiscal update. The government says GST/HST will apply to all companies that provide digital services — which means Netflix and Airbnb would charge sales tax on subscriptions and reservations north of the border. While the European Union moved to tax digital platforms two years ago, Freeland said Canada is prepared to act "unilaterally if necessary."Work-from-home tax break. Employees working from home with "modest expenses" in 2020 can claim up to $400, based on time spent at the dining-room desk. Canadians can make the claim "without the need to track detailed expenses," and the tax man "will generally not request" confirmation from employers, the economic statement says.Increasing fiscal-stabilization payments. Responding to a call from provinces whose finances have taken a beating, the Liberals say they will increase the maximum payment under a program designed to help provincial governments deal with temporary economic shocks. The cap will go from $60 per resident, set in 1987, to $170 per person and increase with economic growth.Support the troops. The government is also proposing to sign off on an additional $600,000 to top up the Veterans Emergency Fund that would ensure more financial support for veterans whose well-being is at risk "due to an urgent and unexpected situation."All the wage. For businesses, the government wants to bring the wage subsidy back to 75 per cent of company payroll costs and extend the business rent subsidy to mid-March. The Trudeau government had previously extended the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to the summer, while the adapted business-rent subsidy — revised from a less popular iteration that hinged on landlord participation — was slated only to continue through the end of the year.Clean water for Indigenous communities. The government is pledging to invest $1.5 billion in 2020-21 to work toward lifting all long-term drinking water advisories in Indigenous communities, and $114 million each year after. The Liberals have maintained a years-long pledge to lift all outstanding boil-water advisories for Indigenous residents by March 2021. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last month that about 95 advisories had been lifted since the party came to power in 2015, but more than 60 remained the last time figures were updated before the pandemic.A $100-billion stimulus. The government plans to spend between $70 billion and $100 billion over the next three years to stimulate the economic recovery from COVID-19. The boon amounts to between three and four per cent of GDP, and will tilt toward a "greener, more innovative" bounce-back, though the details are to be determined.Get retrofit. Ottawa is aiming to dole out $2.6 billion over seven years to help homeowners make their digs more efficient, starting in 2020-21. The cash, channelled through Natural Resources Canada, would take the form of up to 700,000 grants of $5,000 or less to help with projects that could range from energy-efficient heating to solar-panel installations. The upcoming plan, with eligibility retroactive to December 2020, fulfils a Liberal election promise from last year.Cash for families. Looking to boost temporary support for parents, the Liberals plan to provide up to $1,200 per child under six years old for low- and middle-income families that are entitled to the Canada Child Benefit, starting next year. The bump marks an increase of nearly 20 per cent above the benefit's current maximum payment.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
ÉMILIE PELLETIER Initiative de journalisme local — Le Droit Pour la quatrième journée de suite, la santé publique de l’Ontario rapporte lundi plus de 1 700 cas de COVID-19 répertoriés au cours de la dernière journée. Toronto a pulvérisé, au cours des 24 dernières heures, son record du plus grand nombre de cas de COVID-19 avec 622 nouvelles infections. Toronto, Peel et York demeurent les régions les plus touchées par la transmission du virus actuellement. La province déplore le décès de huit personnes atteintes du coronavirus dimanche. En tout, 3 656 Ontariens ont perdu la vie aux mains du virus, dont 2 303 résidents de foyers de soins de longue durée ainsi que huit employés de ces établissements. Depuis le début de l’année, 116 492 cas de COVID-19 ont été répertoriés en Ontario. Parmi les personnes ayant contracté le virus en province, 84,7 % sont maintenant considérées comme guéries. Dimanche, 618 personnes étaient hospitalisées en raison de la COVID-19, dont 168 aux soins intensifs. Parmi ces derniers, 108 étaient sous respirateur. Émilie Pelletier, journaliste, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Droit
There were two more deaths from COVID-19 reported by the province on Monday. Both deaths were in the 80 and over age group and were located in the South Central and South East zones. The number of deaths in the province is now 47. The province also reported another 325 cases on Monday. The current seven-day average is 263, or 21. 7 cases per 100,000 population. The North Central, which includes Prince Albert, reported 27 new cases. In other zones there were 125 in Saskatoon, 62 in Regina, 23 in the North West, 22 in the South West, 14 in the Far North East, 13 in the South East, 10 in the Central East, nine in the North East and Far North East, eight in the South Central and a single case in the South West. There are two cases with pending residence information. Four cases with pending residence information were assigned with single cases being assigned to the North Central, Far North East, North West and Regina zones. The Saskatoon zone leads the Active Case breakdown with 1,318 cases; the North Central zone is third with 399 active cases. North Central 2, which is Prince Albert, has 173 active cases. North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 194 active cases and North Central 3 has 32 active cases. In second place is Regina with 693 active cases. Of the 8,564 reported COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, 3,879 are considered active. The recovered number now sits at 4,638 after 49 more recoveries were reported. The number of people in hospital is 111 in total in the province. One hundred people are currently receiving inpatient care; eight in the North Central, 33 in Saskatoon, 26 in Regina, 18 in the South East, eight in the North West, three in the North East and one each in the South Central, South West and Far North West. Twenty-three people, three in the North Central, 14 in Saskatoon and six in Regina, are in intensive care. The total number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic is 8,564. Of those, 2,603 cases are from the Saskatoon area, 1,742 cases are from the north area (623 north west, 813 north central and 306 north east), 1,529 cases are from the Regina area, 1,122 cases are from the south area (429 south west, 407 south central and 286 south east), 913 cases are from the far north area (600 far north west, 80 far north central and 233 far north east) and 913 cases are from the far north area (600 far north west, 80 far north central, 233 far north east). There are now 28 cases that have pending residence location. There are currently 256 cases that are health care workers; however, the source of the infections is not related to their work environments in all instances. Of the 8,564 cases in the province: 471 cases are related to travel, 3,616 are community contacts, which includes mass gatherings, 1,825 have no known exposures and 2,652 are under investigation by local public health. The age breakdown shows 1,774 cases involve people 19 years of age and under, 3,050 cases are in the 20-39-age range, 2,291 are in the 40-59-age range, 1,127 are in the 60-79-age range and 317are in the 80-plus-age range. Five cases have a pending age confirmation. The gender breakdown shows 50 per cent of the cases being females and 50 per cent being males. Yesterday,4,251 COVID-19 tests were processed in Saskatchewan. As of today there have been 345,487 COVID-19 tests performed in Saskatchewan. Keep your number of contacts low The province also reminded residents to keep contacts low. Based on the confirmed cases at present, public health estimates that there are more than 6,600 reported contacts requiring follow-up in the province right now. “A ‘close contact’ is anyone that you have spent 15 minutes or more with, within the two metres of physical distancing. You should be able to count your close contacts on one hand. At this time, your close contacts should be the members of your immediate household who you dine with, hug, see without requiring a mask,” the release stated. Although not close contacts, consider all your weekly contacts whether in the classroom or at your workplace. While you must abide by the public health guidelines in these spaces to reduce the risk of transmission, could you list your contacts for the past 14 days? Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
The big takeaways for agriculture in Ontario’s behemoth $187 billion 2020 budget are funding for rural broadband infrastructure and the Agri-Food Prevention and Control Innovation Program. The provincial government has made available an additional $680 million across four years to bring reliable internet connectivity to rural and underserved areas of the province. “We look forward to seeing that infrastructure actually put in the ground,” said Peggy Brekveld, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture’s newly elected president. Over three years, the budget allots $25.5 million to the Agri-Food Prevention and Control Innovation Program. The cost-sharing funds are available for projects to mitigate disruptions to farm business from COVID-19 through technology. Brekveld said she believes the funds “will help us continue to find ways to innovate and invest in new technologies” to push back against COVID-19's effects on the sector. The budget reads that innovation funding will lead to “increased efficiencies and productivity” while supporting “resilience and long-term sustainability and growth in the agri-food sector.” Bill George, chair of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, also highlighted the innovation funding as the budget’s main appeal for the agri-food sector. “There’s not a lot really other than that,” he said. Only a small element of the budget, there’s also $5 million set out for Ontario’s struggling agricultural and horticultural societies. For the societies, who put on many of the province’s fall fairs (there are three in Niagara put on by agricultural societies) the funding is significant. Speaking to Niagara This Week for a November story on the funding, Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies manager, Vince Brennan, said he’s never seen anything like it before and called it the “single largest influx of dollars for our organizations.” For the 2020-21 fiscal year, a record provincial deficit of $38.5 billion is projected in the budget. Reflected as a percentage, the net debt of the deficit makes up 47 per cent of all of Ontario’s economic production or gross domestic production (GDP). Ontario’s GDP is also projected to fall 6.5 per cent during 2020. Two deficit outlook scenarios are presented, one for slow growth and another for faster. Under a fast growth projection, the provincial deficit by the 2022-23 fiscal year would decline to $21.3 billion. Under slow growth, the projection for the same period would be a decline to $33.4 billion. Currently, the 2020 budget projects the deficit to decline to $28.2 billion for the 2022-23 fiscal year. Of the total $187 billion in spending in the 2020 budget, $12.5 billion is forecasted to be spent on paying interest on government debt. There is also $2.5 billion being kept in reserve to weather any unforeseen circumstances. There was no plan presented to balance the multi-year budget, as is required by law, and the province will be seeking a pause on the requirement given the "volatile and uncertain economic situation” of the pandemic. The province plans to table a path to balance in the 2021 budget.Jordan Snobelen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara this Week
Strathmore has moved to make its fire department more diverse and inclusive by hiring a deputy fire chief to a new recruitment position. Laurie VandeSchoot, the town’s new assistant chief of diversity, inclusion and recruiting, was introduced during the regular Strathmore town council meeting on Nov. 18. VandeSchoot is a municipal government, change management and strategic planning specialist with a 28-year career with the City of Calgary who also consults internationally and locally and instructs at Bow Valley College in Calgary. “Laurie is known for building inclusive and high-performance cultures that strengthens communities,” said Judy Unsworth, Strathmore Fire Department deputy chief, during the meeting. VandeSchoot has experience in diversity services, equity solutions, mental health, public participation, strategic planning and sustainable development, said Unsworth. Furthermore, VandeSchoot leads the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) diversity leadership program, chairs the International Fire Chiefs human relations committee, and is the national co-chair of the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC) national subcommittee on diversity inclusion, among other leadership roles. “Under the direction of chief (Trent) West, I am super excited about what we can do here in Strathmore,” said VandeSchoot. “I’m passionate, as you can tell, about diversity and inclusion – it’s kind of my lifeblood. When we talk about diversity, inclusion and recruitment, diversity and inclusion is our purpose, recruitment is where we start from.” Diversity is about more than numbers, she added. “It’s not just about how many people you have that are different, it’s about that sense of belonging, it’s about that sense of inclusion and how we can create a culture of openness, belonging and wellness.” The hiring of VandeSchoot highlights the importance of welcoming all people to Strathmore’s community and environment, said Strathmore town Councillor Denise Peterson. “It shows that we’re not just saying these things, that we’re actually taking action to embrace inclusion and to break down those barriers that we’ve seen.” Peterson added the position will help develop partnerships with Siksika Nation.Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
An independent investigation has found clear evidence of widespread racism and discrimination against Indigenous patients and staff in the B.C. health-care system.
MONTREAL — As experts mull recommendations regarding ventilation and COVID-19 transmission ahead of the winter, Quebec health officials said Monday that air quality tests carried out in long-term care homes and hospitals earlier this month revealed satisfactory readings.Health Minister Christian Dube said an analysis of carbon dioxide levels was done at his request between Nov. 19 and 23 in about 70 establishments, mostly in the Quebec City area and in central Quebec.The Health Department said CO2 levels are considered a good indicator of ventilation efficiency, and authorities carried out tests in different settings including bathrooms, waiting areas and patients rooms.The results come as a group of experts examining the link between air quality and COVID-19 spread is set to issue recommendations in early December, with particular attention to schools and health-care facilities.The World Health Organization and the Public Health Agency of Canada have both said aerosol transmission and spread of COVID-19 is a concern."The expert group will therefore have to look in particular at the additional preventive and, if necessary, mitigation measures that could be put in place, if necessary," the Health Department said in a statement.Concern about indoor air quality has been heightened in the province, which on Monday reported 1,333 new COVID-19 infections and 23 additional deaths linked to the virus, along with an increase in hospitalizations and patients in intensive care.The results announced Monday were from tests done mostly in so-called cold zones without COVID-19 patients, but some were in hot zones, and the testing covered different kinds of ventilation systems, including just open windows.The results for Quebec City came back at 651 parts per million and at 707 parts per million in central Quebec — both below the maximum target of 1,110.But one Montreal health official questioned whether the ventilation systems in place in long-term care centres are adequate to deal with a disease as contagious as COVID-19.Francine Dupuis is associate CEO of the Montreal regional health authority that on Sunday had to transfer 20 COVID-19 patients from a long-term care home, the Maimonides Geriatric Centre, to local hospitals.“We are waiting for the recommendations of public health, but probably too many people at the same place is not a good idea for the ventilation system,” Dupuis said in an interview Sunday.“These ventilation systems have been created for long-term care facilities, not acute care facilities like hospitals."In some cases, authorities are emptying wards to air them out before bringing patients back, but Dupuis says the cost of upgrading ventilation systems in long-term care would be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.On Tuesday, Quebec's schools will also have their air quality tested. Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge, in announcing tests last week, said any necessary improvements would be made over the Christmas break.Last week, a group of doctors and experts concerned about air quality in schools and the transmission of COVID-19 unveiled the results of a clandestine project where teachers measured air quality in 25 classrooms, finding that 75 per cent had CO2 levels that exceeded acceptable levels.Authorities did not hold a briefing on Monday as Montreal led the way in new infections, reporting 400 new confirmed cases, followed by the Monteregie, the greater Quebec City region, Saguenay Lac-St-Jean and Lanaudiere."The situation of the last days is worrying," Dube said via his Twitter account on Monday. "I would remind you that we must continue to respect all measures and limit our contacts for (a reduction in) the number of cases."Eight deaths were recorded in the previous 24 hours while 14 others were from the last week.The province has now reported 142,371 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 7,056 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, adding another 1,108 recoveries for a total of 122,014.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.— With files from Jillian Kestler-D'Amours in Montreal.Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
One man was killed in an avalanche near Mackenzie, B.C., on Saturday, according to RCMP.Two people were snowmobiling in the Power King/Bijoux Falls area when the avalanche happened just before 2 p.m. PT. One of the snowmobilers was buried in the snow, according to a statement Monday.A search and rescue team, as well as avalanche-trained searchers from Prince George, B.C., later found the man dead.RCMP said he was 35 years old and originally from Dawson Creek, B.C. The second sledder was unhurt.The B.C. Coroner's Service is investigating the man's death. RCMP did not release any further details.A "significant" storm left up to 70 centimetres of fresh powder in the area on Saturday. Avalanche Canada said there were "very dangerous avalanche conditions" in the treeline and alpine at the time.
Vancouver police say several fines were issued over the weekend after officers were called to break up four separate gatherings, all of which violated provincial COVID-19 protocols.On Friday night, police were called to a downtown party after a concerned mother said her teenaged daughter and several other youth were at a party with adults where the parent suspected drug use, according to a statement posted to the Vancouver police website Monday.Officers found 16 people from different households inside the condo in question, the statement said. Officers broke up the party and issued a $2,300 violation ticket to the primary resident and the teenaged girls were released to a guardian, the VPD statement said.In a separate incident late Saturday, only two of six people discovered inside a broken-down limousine stalled on Stanley Park Drive were found to have come from the same household.In addition, police said the driver, who did not have a licence or permit to operate a limousine, was fined $2,300 for violating COVID-19 protocols.Highly intoxicated, hostile party-goers Later that same evening, police were called to two separate parties inside two different condo buildings, the statement said.At one of those, about 10 people were celebrating a birthday, police said. Despite the group being apologetic and remorseful for violating protocols, the condo owner was issued a $230 fine.But the other group of about 15 partiers, who police said were "highly intoxicated", became hostile when officers tried to break up the gathering, according to the statement.That owner was issued a $2,300 COVID-19 violation ticket by police.
PHOENIX — Arizona officials certified the state's election results on Monday, formalizing Democrat Joe Biden’s narrow victory over Donald Trump even as the Republican president's attorneys continued to make baseless claims of fraud about the state's vote count.Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Republican Gov. Doug Ducey both vouched for the integrity of the election before signing off on the results.“We do elections well here in Arizona. The system is strong,” Ducey said.He did not directly address Trump's claims of irregularities but said the state pulled off a successful election with a mix of in-person and mail voting despite the pandemic.Hobbs said Arizona voters should know that the election “was conducted with transparency, accuracy and fairness in accordance with Arizona's laws and election procedures, despite numerous unfounded claims to the contrary.”Biden is only the second Democrat in 70 years to win Arizona. In the final tally, he beat Trump by 10,457 votes, or 0.3 per cent of the nearly 3.4 million ballots cast. Eleven Democratic electors will meet Dec. 14 to formally cast Arizona’s electoral votes for Biden.Even as Hobbs, Ducey, the state attorney general and chief justice of the state Supreme Court certified the election results, Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis met in a Phoenix hotel ballroom a few miles away to lay out claims of irregularities in the vote count in Arizona and elsewhere. But they did not provide evidence of widespread fraud.“The officials certifying have made no effort to find out the truth, which to me, gives the state Legislature the perfect reason to take over the conduct of this election because it’s being conducted irresponsibly and unfairly,” Giuliani said.Nine Republican state lawmakers attended the meeting. They had requested permission to hold a formal legislative hearing at the Capitol but were denied by the Republican House speaker and Senate president.Elections challenges brought by the Trump campaign or his backers in key battleground states have largely been unsuccessful as Trump continues to allege voter fraud while refusing to concede.There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. In fact, election officials from both political parties have stated publicly that the election went well and international observers confirmed there were no serious irregularities.A judge in Phoenix has scheduled a Thursday trial in Arizona GOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward’s lawsuit that seeks to annul Biden’s victory in the state.The lawsuit against Biden’s 11 electors in Arizona asks for an inspection of mail-in ballot signatures and duplicated ballots in metro Phoenix, home to 61 per cent of Arizona’s voters.Judge Randall Warner is letting Ward’s lawyers and experts compare the signatures on 100 mail-in ballot envelopes with signatures on file to determine whether there were any irregularities.Hobbs’ office has said there was no factual basis for such a review. Under questioning from Warner, Ward’s attorney, Jack Wilenchik, said Congress would decide the presidential contest if the results are annulled by the court.Last week, another judge in Phoenix rejected the Arizona Republican Party’s bid to postpone the certification of election results in Maricopa County — which encompasses Phoenix and is the state's most populous — and dismissed the party’s legal challenge that sought a new audit of a sampling of ballots.The certification also paved the way for Democrat Mark Kelly to take his seat in the U.S. Senate, formalizing his victory in a special election to finish the last two years of the term of John McCain, who died in 2018. Kelly is scheduled to be sworn in on Wednesday in Washington.The GOP's Senate majority will fall to 52 members when Kelly replaces Republican Martha McSally, who was appointed to McCain's seat but lost to Kelly in the election.Control of the next Senate will come down to two runoff elections in Georgia. If Democrats win both, the Senate would be split 50-50, and incoming Vice-President Kamala Harris would cast tie-breaking votes.___Associated Press writer Jacques Billeaud in Phoenix contributed to this report.Jonathan J. Cooper And Terry Tang, The Associated Press
Students in grades 7-12 have now moved to online classes until at least Jan. 11, and diploma exams will now be optional for the rest of the school year. Nailah Fuko, a Grade 10 student at Edmonton's W.P. Wagner School, said she found out she'd be back to learned online while scrolling through Instagram. "I came upon this post that was talking about the government saying that we were moving online," Fuko said in an interview on Edmonton AM. "And I was like, 'Oh, this is new.'" Rebecca Boroditsky, a Grade 10 student at Ross Sheppard, said she's not worried about the academic implications of going virtual. Hear the students talk about their next month online: "For the socializing portion, I'm kind of sad," she said. "I've made friends and I won't really get to talk to them anymore until January." Boroditsky said she had been enjoying the quarter system schools brought in instead of the usual two semesters. In quarters, the classes are longer and Boroditsky said she had been liking her ceramics class she's taking. "We have more time to really get into it and do lots of project things, whereas with the shorter classes ... there's less time because you have to designate time to clean up and get set up, and that eats into a good portion of the class if it's shorter," she said. Fuko said she prefers a semester setup. "I think they sped up a lot of the material and it wasn't as easy to learn," she said. One practical difference is that online learning will make it easier to physically distance. Boroditsky said that was much easier in classrooms than in hallways or at lunch. Fuko said her friends are being careful and do care about safety and what's going on with COVID-19. "I definitely think students particularly are very worried and trying to do their best with what the rules are and how to follow the rules," Fuko said.
EDMONTON — Aurora Cannabis Inc. says it is indefinitely pausing operations at one of its Alberta facilities and laying off a few dozen staff.The Edmonton-based cannabis company says the pause will occur at its Aurora Sun property in Medicine Hat, where it will layoff about 30 workers.Aurora spokeswoman Michelle Lefler says that the moves are expected to be complete around Dec. 18. She says the measures are part of a review the company is conducting to ensure all of its operations are a fit for its current and future business and to help the company adjust to recent shifts in the industry.Aurora's shares gained 11 per cent to $15.25 in Monday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.In June, the company laid off 700 workers and announced plans to cease operations at five facilities in Saskatchewan, Ontario, Alberta and Quebec. It also said it planned to consolidate production and manufacturing at four facilities in Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:ACB)The Canadian Press
Niagara Catholic District School Board is reporting another case of COVID-19 at St. Martin Catholic Elementary School, bringing the school case count to 10. An outbreak was declared at the Smithville school on Nov. 19. Public health confirmed to Niagara Catholic that the new COVID-19 case was connected to the outbreak. The provincial database that reports on school-related COVID-19 cases in Ontario on Monday identified four of the 10 cases as being infected staff and four as students. The remaining two cases were not immediately unknown as the provincial database lags behind school boards in its case reporting. Over the weekend, District School Board of Niagara announced an individual at Martha Cullimore Public School in Niagara Falls and an individual at Port Colborne High School tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, three classrooms will be closed: two at Port High and one at Martha Cullimore. “As part of COVID-19 case management and infection control protocol, students and staff who had close contact with the individual are being contacted and told by NRPH (Niagara Region Public Health) to stay home and self-isolate,” DSBN said a media release. The board website Monday listed six active cases at four of its schools. There are three active cases in Niagara Falls, two at Prince Philip and one at Martha Cullimore; two active cases in St Catharines, all at Eden High School; and the one in Port Colborne. The provincial database had yet to identify if the cases are staff or student. Custodians at both schools will complete a thorough cleaning as required. A public health inspector and a public health nurse will visit the schools to complete a comprehensive assessment. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: email@example.comSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
Local businesses are frustrated and exhausted as they weather the storm in Toronto’s second lockdown since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March. The province announced Nov. 20 that Toronto and Peel were going into its Lockdown/Grey level of its pandemic response framework as of Nov. 23. The regions had seen continuous spikes of cases of COVID-19 since the end of summer, and hospitalizations and ICU admittance had drastically increased. But as the lockdown aims to reduce the spread of the virus, business owners in East Toronto are asking why big box stores are still permitted to remain open. “It’s just another hammer on the head,” Skaut Design owner Inese Korbs said. Her store on Kingston Road sells home decor, furniture, and other design products. Korbs doesn’t have the staff to move her inventory online for customers as a lot of her products are vintage pieces. “It’s another full-time job,” she said. Instead Korbs relies on “virtual visits” where people can phone in via video conference and she’ll walk them through the store. She said before the lockdown, while there were fewer visitors than normal years, individuals were buying more per visit. That came to a grinding halt last week. “The most difficult part is knowing that big box stores are allowed to operate,” Korbs said. “It’s kind of like they have different rules.” Walmart and Costco are some of the bigger chains permitted to open, while Amazon still remains ever popular for online shopping. It’s difficult to compete with bigger chains as it is, let alone if you can’t even stay open, Korbs said. Lita Yiu owns and operates the clothing store Set Me Free on Queen Street East. She expressed the same frustration that Korbs did about big box stores staying open. “If you really want to control the spread, shut down big box stores,” Yiu said. “I’m happy to have one or two customers allowed in the store at a time, we don’t have the same clout as big businesses, we can’t absorb the shock.” Yiu said she and her staff are uploading their inventory on e-commerce platforms online, but between all the clothing, accessories, and gifts, it’s a lot of work. “It’s tedious, it’s time consuming, and you don’t make much money. It’s not the same as walk-in.” However, Yiu and Korbs have been overjoyed by the local community’s support of their businesses. Before the lockdown, both business owners were receiving many local customers who were eager to support their neighbourhood businesses. “People came in, they expressed condolences, supported our store,” Korbs said of the weekend before the lockdown began. “The people in this neighbourhood are very supportive, and they’re going out of their way to help us.” It’s been the case throughout the pandemic, Yiu said. From the beginning to now, local customers have supported her. “They’re amazing,” she said. “They always try to shop local, especially after the first lockdown.” Like many small businesses across Canada, Yiu and Korbs have taken advantage of the federal government COVID-19 supports for businesses. It’s helped them with expenses such as rent and wages, but nothing will recover the loss of revenue in December and the anticipated holiday shopping seasons that so many retail businesses rely on. “The vast majority of small businesses adhere to the restrictions equally if not better than large chains,” Beach Village BIA executive director Anna Sebert said. “Most of the businesses on Queen Street can make a go of it with one or two people in the store at a time.” “Just because there are some bad apples, doesn’t mean all businesses should suffer,” she added. Beaches-East York Councillor Brad Bradford agrees the “rules around some of the closures haven’t always made sense” regarding big box stores, but warns that the virus remains a threat. “There’s no doubt about it, the lockdown is taking a toll on all of us but we have to push through. It’s the only way out of this,” he said. “We’re all seeing the news of the businesses staying open in protest and people rallying against the closures. That’s concerning as it puts us all at risk, especially gathering in the way we’ve seen.” Bradford has received calls from local businesses asking if it is possible to ease up bylaw enforcement to allow some businesses to remain open. “I can understand the way they’re feeling,” he said. “We’re all tired, we’re hurting, but we have to follow the guidelines.” Cases have been among the lowest in the city for the Beach area, an achievement Bradford applauded as the community “is looking out for each other.” He said he’s making efforts to get relief for businesses from the federal and provincial governments. “What we need to focus on is getting the full weight of financial support possible for local businesses,” he said. “We also need clearer, fairer and more evenly applied rules if and when closures continue. City council doesn’t get to make these decisions – but we can elevate the voice of the impact they’re having on our communities and main streets.” Business owners say they understand the severity of the pandemic, and agree with most public health measures, but worry about local businesses in the community – especially restaurants, bars, and cafes. “I feel horrible for the restaurants,” Korbs said. “If they all survive that would be a miracle, their hands and feet are tied.”Ali Raza, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Beach Metro News
OTTAWA — Advocates of stricter gun control are urging the Trudeau government to get on with promised reforms, saying they are months overdue. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has pledged new measures, including a buyback of recently outlawed firearms, tougher storage provisions and steps to control handguns. Heidi Rathjen, coordinator of the group PolySeSouvient, told an online news conference Monday that several months later there are no signs of progress on legislation. "We urge minister Blair to return to the gun file with force and to aim to meet his commitments without delay." The plea came days before the Dec. 6 anniversary of the shootings of 14 women at Montreal's École Polytechnique, which Rathjen witnessed as a student. The federal government outlawed a wide range of firearms by cabinet order in May, including the one used at Polytechnique, saying the guns were designed for the battlefield, not hunting or sport shooting. The ban covers some 1,500 models and variants of what the government considers assault-style weapons, meaning they can no longer be legally used, sold or imported. The measure has met with stiff criticism from some firearms owners and the federal Conservatives, who question the value of the ban. Blair has promised to follow the move with legislative changes to further tighten restrictions on firearms. “There is more to do, and we’re committed to doing it," Blair's spokeswoman, Mary-Liz Power, said Monday. "We will introduce legislation designed to deliver on the promises that we made to Canadians in the last election." PolySeSouvient wants to see the new prohibitions on assault-style guns, brought in through regulation, embedded into law to complete the ban and render it permanent — something the Liberal government has signalled it will do. It also wants the Liberals to legislate a system of pre-authorization for guns to ensure only new models inspected and authorized by the RCMP can enter the Canadian market. Blair has said the coming legislation will create a new evergreen framework for classification of firearms to ensure federal intentions can’t be easily overridden. But also on Monday, Blair announced a three-year delay in setting regulations for "marking" guns so they can be traced to registered owners if they're seized in connection with crimes. Those rules were due to kick in Tuesday after years of previous delays. His department said that without clear record-keeping requirements for some guns, it isn't sure how to to connect markings to owners. But it said it's committed to a marking system nonetheless, if not right away. "The government will not reintroduce the long-gun registry," the announcement concluded. Eyeing the next wave of federal legislation, PolySeSouvient also wants the government to: — Limit firearm magazines to five bullets to reduce the damage a mass shooter can do; — Give police officers easier access to commercial sales record data to help detect bulk gun purchases; — Invest significant efforts and resources in strengthening the screening and monitoring of gun-licence applicants and licensed owners; — End the importation and manufacture of handguns. The Trudeau government plans to empower provinces and cities to take steps to manage the storage and use of handguns within their individual jurisdictions, given that they have different needs and concerns. PolySeSouvient has counselled the government to avoid off-loading handgun restrictions onto municipalities, saying local bans are generally ineffective, as the patchwork of local and state laws in the United States shows. According to the RCMP the number of restricted firearms — predominantly handguns — registered to individuals or businesses rose to 1,057,418 last year from 983,792 in 2018. Claire Smith and Ken Price, whose daughter survived a Toronto shooting in July 2018, pressed Monday for a ban on the private ownership of handguns. "It's been over two years since our daughter was shot," Price said during the news conference. "And from our perspective, there has been zero legislative progress on handguns and the situation keeps getting worse." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press