Canada's economy will hit a major roadblock during the first quarter of 2021 before gaining momentum in the next quarter, according to economists in a Reuters poll who said the country's GDP would reach its pre-pandemic growth levels within a year. Although economic activity had recovered partially from a record drop - 7.5% in Q1 and 38.1% in Q2 - in the first half of 2020, it took another hit after a resurgence in coronavirus infections led to renewed tight containment measures. The Jan. 11-18 Reuters poll of over 40 economists predicted the economy, which grew a record annualized 40.5% in the third quarter of 2020, expanded 3.8% in the fourth quarter, a third consecutive downgrade.
Should councillors be talking to the media independently? That was the second time in a week the matter had come up before a North Simcoe council, after it had been discussed at the Penetanguishene council Wednesday night. This time, it was Tay Township's deputy mayor that was asking if it was best for the mayor or chief administrative officer to respond to media requests when representing the municipality. Once again, the media request was a yearend survey sent out to all council members by MidlandToday's Community Editor Andrew Philips. "He didn't email it to council; he emailed it to all of us," said Coun. Jeff Bumstead. "I could see all the recipients. The way I took it is that they were looking for a specific response from all of council. I didn't see any harm in the questions. I didn't see anything specific that was going against the township. It was just the general feel of how I felt as a councillor." He then talked about a MidlandToday reporter reaching out to him for a story he had brought to council's attention (poppy masks being made by a local resident). "She had reached out and I asked the mayor about it," said Bumstead. "She was just looking for an opinion from me on a specific topic. The advice I got was that media is asking a question there's no problem is answering it." "If we want to clamp down and direct media to the mayor and CAO, I don't have a problem with it," he added. "If it's not okay for individual councillors to answer behalf of the township, then we can have it in the code of conduct." Fellow Coun. Paul Raymond also talked about what the integrity commissioner had outlined in the code of conduct policy. "We do have a right to an opinion as long as we make it clear it is our opinion and not the township and council as a whole," he said. "That is when the CAO or mayor come in. It's very important we take great measures to make sure that distinction is made. "As far as the other social media, I'm sure there will be other questions there," added Raymond. "We are allowed to be approached for our opinion but our opinion only." Coun. Mary Warnock said she had sought clarification on the survey, asking if it was to be based on personal opinions or a council view. "I did want to clarify that before I answered it," she said. "If it's a message coming from council or township as a whole, it should come from the CAO or mayor. You want your message to have some control and precision." CAO Lindsay Barron agreed that the councillors had raised some good points about distinguishing between an independent opinion and a township stance. "A clear distinction is if he/she is responding as an individual member of council or on behalf of the township," she said. "In the second case, it should be coming from the mayor or myself." Deputy Mayor Gerard LaChapelle said maybe the next time a reporter reaches out to an individual councillor, he/she can seek direction from the CAO. "I would suggest we should contact the CAO to find out if we can speak to it individually," he said. That didn't sit well with Raymond. "I don't go to the CAO for permission on anything, with all due respect to the CAO," he said. "We are allowed to be individuals. If we're going to go on an endeavour like this, we give a heads-up to the CAO and mayor. If they feel it's not beneficial to the community on the whole, they can let us know. We all want betterment for the township and we all have different ideas of how that can be accomplished." The conversation then turned toward answering questions posed by residents. "A lot of times we get emails from customers/residents, what do we think as council is best direction?" said LaChapelle. Coun. Sandy Talbot shared her process around that. "What I always do is if I get an email, I will forward it to a staff member," she said. "It's worked for me for all these years and that's best practice when it comes to residential inquiries." Raymond said each situation is unique. "There's a lot of different types of communications from residents, sometimes it's a question, sometimes they're in a situation where they're at odds with staff," he said. "They approach us as councillors to try and intervene to get the two parties talking. I think that, also, is our role. At the end of the day, we're the bridge between residents and staff and the services they provide." Barron said she hoped residents would reach out to staff before taking matters to their councillor. "Often times, I get involved when the councillor gets involved," she said. "I'd like to see my position as facilitator before council intervenes. If the resident wants to talk to you after, by all means. As far as being copied on the response, I'd really like to see where we get to a point where a councillor forwards it to staff and lets staff handle it." Raymond said when residents reach out to him, it's after they've reached a dead-end with staff. "When the two parties get talking to each other, I will back out and just need to know it's been resolved," he said, adding he didn't think it was pertinent for councillors to get into the weeds of matters. "When I do talk to residents, they're not aware of the structure of staff," added Raymond. "If we had an opportunity to simplify that structure, to let them know which way to go, maybe that would simplify it." Then councillors discussed behaviour on social media. "It has to do with Facebook use so we don't get ourselves in a situation," said LaChapelle. Mayor Ted Walker said he would definitely like directions around that incorporated in the municipal code of conduct. "I have seen some instances where the line has been crossed," he said without mentioning specifics. "The unfortunate part of that is that those that don't use Facebook don't have a chance to give their opinion or correct any errors. I think discussions of that nature need to be held here and not on Facebook." All councillors agreed that the communications specialist should help prepare some do's and don't's for council surrounding social media use. "All they are is a tool to facilitate you," said Raymond. "We already have standards, a code of conduct, that as councillors we're supposed to follow wherever we are. It's easy when you're on social media to get dragged into a fight. You have to know when to stop." Daryl O'Shea, general manager, corporate services manager of technology services, indicated such an endeavour was already underway and would soon be brought to council's attention. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
The McKellar council says it supports the upgrade of unassumed roads within the township. Here are five quotes that capture the discussion from the Jan. 12 council meeting: 1. “This is simply formalizing the process that we did last year, and of course, the word unassumed roads means municipally owned unassumed roads — these are not private roads,” said Coun. Don Carmichael. “We’ve already done Bailey’s (subdivision) and Craigmoore is scheduled for the spring.” 2. “Somebody argued, ‘Why should the municipality put any money on these roads?’ Well, it is the betterment of the township overall in the long run,” said Coun. Morely Haskim. “Somebody argued, ‘It doesn’t affect the vast majority,’ but it does, if you have a subdivision like that and all of a sudden they’re selling as a township-owned, maintained year-round road those properties are going to sell for more than a road that is not maintained by the municipality.” 3. “The resolution seemed a little bit too open-ended, I just thought that maybe it should be more specific regarding which roads that this focusing is going to be on … some type of report from the public works superintendent in regard to what this entails,” said Coun. Mike Kekkonen. 4. “As they get approval by the owners, we have a staff agreement/contract ready, then they can start to be moved forward. There’s not that many but it’s going to take time to get them all,” said McKellar’s Mayor Peter Hopkins. “So there’s a timeline, an open-ended one, to get the agreements in place.” 5. “This is supplementary to the roads policy we approved … it’s a policy that talks about the fact that we have legal liability on municipally owned roads even if we don’t assume it — that’s been clearly demonstrated in the courts so that’s part of the reason why we’re actually interested in doing this,” said Carmichael. According to a report submitted to council, featured in the Dec. 8, 2020 agenda package, the 2020 approved capital budget for the Bailey’s subdivision project was $83,360. The report given by Greg Gostick, road superintendent, states that the total cost for the project, excluding municipal staff time, was $76,867.31 and the cost of staff time to complete the project $14,824.91, bringing the total cost to $91,692.22. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
A new study paints a troubling portrait of potential climate change impacts on Arctic char in Labrador, amid calls for more research to better understand what the future holds for the species that occupies a place of immense value in Canada's North. The study, published recently in the journal Nature Climate Change, is the result of years of field and laboratory work by a team of Canadian scientists. The researchers spent several summers sampling migratory Arctic char — the variant of the fish that moves from fresh to saltwater and back again — in rivers across the region, from its northern reaches in the Torngat Mountains all the way south to the tip of Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula. The study then analyzed the fish's genetic data and, combined with climate modelling from 2050, concluded the southernmost fish are the most vulnerable and "may be unable to adapt to pervasive warming in the Arctic." "What we think we're seeing with this data is that we can expect there to be declines in this region for decades to come, essentially. That we expect that we will be losing those migratory [southern] populations," said Kara Layton, a study co-author and an associate professor at Aberdeen University in Scotland. Predicting that the char will shift northward falls in line with already known science, said Layton. "We have seen this already in things, like plants and birds and that, so we know these sorts of trends, and this loss of the southern range contraction is happening elsewhere," she said. Scientific research on Labrador's Arctic char stocks is fairly thin, with study co-author Ian Bradbury saying the new work has helped map out the char's DNA and fill in some blanks about population, past and present. But overall, there's no solid understanding of just how many fish are out there. "We've started to scratch the surface in understanding which populations are going to be vulnerable, of Arctic char in Labrador. But I still think there's a lot of unknowns in terms of understanding how many individuals we have there and what the magnitude of these changes that are coming actually will be," said Bradbury, a research scientist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in St. John's. Labrador is predicted to warm much more than the island portion of the province, according to provincial climate data that shows Nain could be 7.3 C warmer in winter by 2050. With the new Arctic char knowledge assembled and published, Bradbury said it gives both scientists and communities information to help direct work around the species in a rapidly changing world. "It's something that I think really does further stress the need to mitigate climate change impacts, and it does give us something that we can start to monitor, so that we can start to prepare for these changes as they occur," he said. 'Crying' for more science: harvesters Arctic char is a highly prized traditional food in Inuit communities, such as the five within Nunatisavut territory on Labrador's north coast. The only commercial fishery for Arctic char in Newfoundland and Labrador is based in that region, where the Torngat Fish Producers Co-operative holds the distinction of operating the province's northernmost fish plant, in Nain. The head of the co-op said he doesn't get any comfort from the study's findings that his region's char could fare better than its southern counterparts. While Keith Watts welcomes the new research, he said far more of it needs to be done. "We've been crying and asking for more science from DFO, because it is their responsibility, for quite some time — decades," said Watts, the co-op's general manager. Watts said the co-op's annual harvest is well below the DFO-set quota, taking only up to 40 per cent of what's allowed. People in Nunatsiavut can also fish their own Arctic char through the Inuit domestic harvest program, but as Watts said that amount is also largely untracked, he's concerned about increasing commercial fishing in the face of so many unknowns. "We're not comfortable with the fact that there's not enough science on the abundance of the species. We don't want to put it into jeopardy," he said. From a business standpoint, the co-op's small catch doesn't make the Arctic char fishery viable, Watts said. The co-op offsets those losses from more lucrative species, as well as subsidies from the Nunatsiavut government, to ensure people can buy the fish either in Nain or the co-op's storefront in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. "Arctic char is very important to Nunatsiavut people and always has been, and always will be. Because of the decline of other things, such as caribou, and food insecurity in the north coast, Arctic char is very important," said Watts. Labrador: 'at the forefront of climate change' That cultural importance is not only cultural, but also ecological. Labrador's Arctic char live throughout the entire region's coast, which means they've adapted to very different temperature conditions, that Layton and Bradbury said can vary by as much as 10 C from its southern to northern edges, or what they call a "steep environmental gradient." That range in latitude, in a rapidly warming world, means an uncertain future for Labrador. "It's a region that I really think is going to be at the forefront of climate change impacts," said Bradbury. As such impacts happen, the char could act as a bellwether for Labrador's larger biodiversity, and better understanding how Arctic char have evolved to their current surroundings by looking at their DNA could help. "We know that its a really, really important species, and one that can tell us a lot, I think, about climate impacts more broadly," said Bradbury. As Watts and the co-op call for more science to be done, there is more research in the works. The Torngat Wildlife, Plants and Fisheries Secretariat is setting up a char-counting fence in the Fraser River, which empties into Nain Bay. Watts said the work was delayed for a year due to the pandemic. Bradbury said he'll continue the study's work, with more genetic sampling of char to come in summers ahead, in the hopes of refining their predictions and figuring out how many fish the future holds. "I think the only way we're actually going to start to get at that is through continued monitoring, and being in Labrador, and using some of these new approaches to start quantifying changes as we see them," he said. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
MILAN — Stellantis, the car company combining PSA Peugeot and Fiat Chrysler, was launched Monday on the Milan and Paris stock exchanges, giving life to the fourth-largest auto company in the world. Stellantis shares rallied 7.6% in Milan to 13.53 euros ($16.32). CEO Carlos Tavares said during a virtual bell-ringing ceremony that the merger creates 25 billion euros in shareholder value. “The focus from day one will be on value creation from synergies, which will increase competitiveness vis-a-vis its peers,” Tavares said. Stellantis has a new logo and will launch on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday, due to the Monday U.S. bank holiday, followed by a press conference with Tavares. Chairman John Elkann, heir to the Fiat-founding Agnelli family, said that the new company has “the scale, the resources, the diversity and the knowledge to successfully capture the opportunities of this new era in transportation.” The technological shift includes electrified powertrains as well as moves toward greater autonomous driving. The merger is aimed at creating 5 billion euros in annual savings. The new company will have the capacity to produce 8.7 million cars a year, behind Volkswagen, Toyota and Renault-Nissan. Fiat Chrysler, which was created from the merger of the Italian and U.S. car companies in 2014, closed Friday down 4.35% at 12.57 euros, having gained in previous days. Its closing market capitalization was under 20 billion euros, far off its 2018 highs of more than 30 billion euros. Colleen Barry, The Associated Press
SUDBURY, Ont. — A class has been sent home from a Sudbury, Ont., elementary school following a confirmed case of COVID-19. Parents of a senior kindergarten/Grade 1 class at St. David's Catholic elementary school were told their children should stay home. Director of Education Joanne Benard says in a letter issued to parents on Sunday that the person with the confirmed case of the novel coronavirus is self-isolating. She says public health officials will notify the parents of anyone considered a close contact. Benard also says all students in the class should self-isolate until Jan. 29 and get tested for the virus as soon as possible. She says "it's understandable that this situation may make caregivers anxious" and says parents of children in other classes should notify the school if they choose to keep their youngsters at home. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. The Canadian Press
BRUSSELS — The European Union’s executive arm on Monday defended a decision to send a team of senior officials to Lisbon for a meeting with Portuguese government ministers, after two ministers tested positive for COVID-19 and a number of top officials went into isolation. Eight members of the European Commission paid a one-day visit to Lisbon Friday — as Portugal started a month-long lockdown — for meetings early in the country's six-month term as EU president nation, which began on Jan. 1. Portugal’s finance and labour ministers later tested positive for the virus, while three other ministers have gone into isolation after coming into contact with people who tested positive. Two EU commission vice-presidents and a commissioner are in quarantine. Asked why it was so important for the visit to go ahead, commission spokesman Eric Mamer said the decision to meet face to face rather than via videoconference — like most EU meetings over the past year — was “not taken lightly.” “It is the launch of an extremely important presidency. There are many, many files which need to be carried forward by the Portuguese presidency, and it was felt important to be able to hold in-person discussions on these different political files,” Mamer said. Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa said Wednesday that the pandemic is “at its most dangerous point” in the country and that the new lockdown would last at least a month. Staying at home is mandatory, including for work, and fines for not complying with rules such as to wear masks oiutdoors have doubled. Schools remain open, along with companies providing essential services. Mamer said the commission officials in quarantine would respect Belgium’s coronavirus rules and take a test on the seventh day after their return from Lisbon. In August, the EU’s chief trade negotiator, Commissioner Phil Hogan, had to resign after he admitted flaunting some measures during a summer stay in his native Ireland. ___ Follow AP coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak The Associated Press
Starting next week, Austria will introduce a similar rule nationwide.View on euronews
Depuis le 9 janvier 2021, les policiers de la Sûreté du Québec ont été présents sur l’ensemble du territoire, dès l’entrée en vigueur du couvre-feu de la santé publique. La sûreté du Québec a déployé des effectifs supplémentaires ont été déployés afin de faire respecter la Loi sur la santé publique. « Depuis la première journée de l’entrée en vigueur du couvre-feu nous étions très engagés afin de veiller au respect de cette nouvelle ordonnance partout sur le territoire » nous fait savoir l’agente d’information au service des communications et de la prévention à la Sûreté du Québec, madame Nancy Fournier. La collaboration des citoyens La Sûreté du Québec a annoncé que les policiers vont demeurer présents afin d’intervenir auprès des citoyens qui ne respectent pas le couvre-feu entre 20h et 5h le lendemain matin. Plusieurs patrouilles vont donc assurer une présence accrue au cours des prochains jours afin de faire respecter les nouvelles règles. « Plusieurs citoyens nous ont contacté afin de rapporter des actes de non-respect des nouvelles mesures sanitaires et les ordonnances du gouvernement » nous a-t-elle confié madame Fournier. Prévenir les infractions de la Loi À noter que des effectifs supplémentaires seront maintenus sur les quarts de travail ciblés par le couvre-feu. « Les interventions des policiers visent à encourager les citoyens à se conformer aux décrets en vigueur et à prévenir les infractions à la Loi sur la santé publique. S’ils le jugent nécessaire, les policiers donneront des constats d’infractions » souligne l’agente d’information au service des communications et de la prévention à la Sûreté du Québec. Les exceptions contrôlées Bien que des exceptions permettent de justifier une dérogation au couvre-feu, la Sûreté du Québec précise qu’il est de la responsabilité des citoyens d’en faire la démonstration. « Après 20h, nous procédons à des vérifications et des contrôles afin de s’assurer que la bonne justification portée par les citoyens en circulation ou en déplacements est valable ainsi qu’il respecte les décrets en vigueur » conclu madame Fournier. Moulay Hicham Mouatadid, Initiative de journalisme local, Reflet Témiscamien (Le)
Abandoned houses and properties are found everywhere in Newfoundland and Labrador. They are houses with chipped paint, boats laid on the shore for the last time and old barns that have been beaten down by the elements. Sometimes, families just left these places and never came back. Other properties fall into disrepair because owners aren’t quite sure what to do with them. Regardless of how they were left, these objects are living history and lend themselves to the story of the people who lived there. Photographer Cory Babstock has documented many of the abandoned structures and objects in his home of Clarenville and the surrounding area. He even produced a small book made up of images of houses left behind, called "Unsettled." “It is important to me. … I’m all about preserving what I can for my kids so that they know we didn’t always live in these bungalows, clumped together in orderly fashion,” he said. That idea of preserving history is part of the reason Babstock takes such pride in photographing the buildings and objects that are left behind. The photos he takes are a historical record of the people and the places where they lived. Last fall, what was left of the Mary Ruth, a sailing vessel built in 1918, had disappeared from its usual spot in Southport. An old home in Open Hall-Red Cliffe that Babstock had photographed frequently has blown down in recent years. Someday, others will be lost to time and there won’t be any record they were ever there. “There is a whole other story, and somebody has to document them," said Babstock. “Sometimes families aren’t able to.” Joe Woods started the Abandoned and Historic Newfoundland and Labrador Facebook group in 2016. He did so to showcase the many such structures across the province to a wide audience. It allowed photographers and those interested in those buildings to interact while sharing their experiences and their work. The group has about 20,000 members and there are several posts daily. “I love finding new places to explore, and Newfoundland and Labrador is endless with them,” Woods said in a social media conversation. In the group, there are pictures of ancient graveyards, abandoned barns, empty storefronts and the skeletons of wooden boats. Often, the interactions inspire others to seek out the images they find in the group, while adding their own. When a new picture is posted, the comment section will sometimes spiral into a cross-section of a person’s connection to the object in the photo, people marvelling at the photo and others who seek to add that object to their photo bucket list. After a quick scroll through the comments, it becomes swiftly evident that these callbacks to an earlier time strike a nerve with people. “One day photographs will be all we have to remember they even stood one time,” said Woods. “It's second chances to admire the beauty and architecture.” The abandoned places Babstock walks don’t always feel like they’re supposed to. Those homes hit your senses differently as you try to picture how families lived a life that was so different from your own, he says, and stepping through their doors pulls you somewhere else. “Every one of these places has a different feel to them,” said Babstock. “Some places resonate with sadness.” He recalled an abandoned home he entered — Babstock always gets permission first — where he found a bed that was left behind. It still had some dressing and a pillow laid on top of it. The floor of another home had long collapsed when he found it. Babstock found a table in the home with dishes still set on it. The dishes appeared to have been left behind in a hurry, he said. “There is a different weight to (the place),” said Babstock. Life has kept west coast photographer Jaimie Maloney from chasing life through a camera lens recently, but that hasn’t diminished her love for photographing and exploring old buildings. When her schedule did allow her to explore the west coast, she found herself drawn to the older structures she found there. “I find it draws me in because it wants to tell me a story,” said Maloney. “I go looking at them and feel the energy and think of various people living there and what they may have done. “It's like the building is talking to you and wants you to share it and pass the information along. It’s almost like being a detective.” Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice
A Burk’s Falls man is hoping to help those who may be feeling isolated during the second provincial lockdown by bringing back good old-fashioned letter writing. Ryan Baptiste, 32, began the project shortly after the success of the letters to Santa Claus initiative he began before the holidays upon hearing the whisperings of another impending lockdown due to rising COVID-19 numbers. “We can see the emotional effects that lockdown can have on individuals,” said Baptiste, who graduated as an addictions and mental health counsellor in 2011. “We started this as a means to keep people connected and hopefully let them know that there are people out there that care about their well-being.” For the pen pals project, people can drop off a letter and Baptiste — along with two other volunteers, Nicole Byng who lives in Toronto, and Debbie Hope who lives in Almaguin — will reply. While counselling isn’t a full-time job for Baptiste, he said he cares deeply, and the effects of COVID-19 can be felt heavily across the profession. “More intake, referrals and virtual sessions with those who are struggling with the isolation is creating larger backlogs,” he said, adding that lockdowns, isolation and social distancing exacerbate pre-existing mental health conditions or addictions. After seeing the success of Baptiste’s Santa mailbox, Penny Brandt, who runs a centre for healing arts at 195 Ontario St. in Burk’s Falls, reached out to him to offer him a spot in front of her office. Brandt shares office space with Yolande’s Hair Salon. “I loved what I saw Ryan do at Christmastime with the letters to Santa, and that really hits the heartstrings because of the children and how important it is,” said Brandt. “He has a councillor background, (but) he’s also understanding that there are some awfully lonely people out there that have nobody and sometimes people want to remain anonymous as well.” “So, when I saw that he was looking for a spot to put the mailbox on the main street it was like hey, and I checked with Yolande and she was fine with it, and I thought, this can only help,” she said, mentioning that everyone is suffering mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially in some way due to COVID-19. “The other thing, for me, is remembering that empathy is a starting point for actually creating a community and taking action like Ryan has just done,” Brandt said. “It is the start of change.” The COVID-19 pen pals mailbox can be found at 195 Ontario St. in front of I Am Centre for Healing Arts and Yolande’s Hair Salon or for those who don’t want to venture outside, they can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska lawmakers convene Tuesday amid economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and a near decadelong run of budget deficits. Reserve money is depleted, and tough decisions are ahead on how to use the state's nest-egg oil-wealth fund. It's unclear who will lead those debates: neither the House nor the Senate has organized majorities. It would be unprecedented for both chambers to start the session without some level of organization, according to legislative librarian Jennifer Fletcher. Majorities control the legislative agenda, and while Republicans outnumber others in both chambers, party often is just one consideration in organizing. Policy positions and personalities factor in, too. One House Republican, for example, Rep. Louise Stutes, has said she'll stick with members of a bipartisan coalition. All this comes against the backdrop of COVID-19, which sent lawmakers home early last year. Now, some have gotten the vaccine, the Capitol remains closed to the public and other protections have been taken against the virus. That includes a testing program and an effort to send lawmakers who refuse to wear masks to their offices and deny Capitol access to those who won't get temperature checks and answer screening questions. Lawmakers, when organized, could change those policies, said Jessica Geary, Legislative Affairs Agency executive director. Some lawmakers say restricting public access is excessive. “We need to operate safely. But we need to remember that we work for the public, and excluding them from the process, it makes it look like the very thing that the public fears about Juneau: that we're already in a bubble, and now we've formally sealed off that bubble with a series of testing and masking procedures that do not allow public access,” said Sen. Peter Micciche, a Republican from Soldotna. Legislative hearings will be broadcast on a public affairs network and online, and there are options for public comment as bills move through committees. Sen. Tom Begich, an Anchorage Democrat, said he’s seen more constituents during the “Zoom era” than before the pandemic. He would like to see masks enforced as rigorously as dress requirements. He said he's been sent to get a tie to attend floor sessions. The major issues awaiting lawmakers, including the budget and the size of the annual dividend that residents should be paid from the nest-egg Alaska Permanent Fund, are familiar ones that have contributed to drawn-out, contentious sessions in recent years. Some lawmakers and Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy say a resolution is needed on the divisive dividend issue. A longstanding formula to calculate checks was last used in 2015, with lawmakers in most years since choosing what to pay. The Alaska Supreme Court has ruled that dividends must compete for funding like any other state program. Alaska has no statewide sales or income tax. Permanent fund earnings, once typically used for dividends, have become a vital source of state government funding, surpassing oil revenue. A law seeking to limit withdrawals from earnings has heightened tensions over how much should go to dividends and other state expenses. Dunleavy ran his 2018 campaign on a so-called full dividend, based on the formula, which he argued should be followed until it's changed. A number of lawmakers agree. Last month, the governor said he would propose a change to the formula that would take effect after this year but wants the public to vote on it. His budget office called the existing formula volatile and based on “out-of-date accounting and fund management principles.” Dunleavy has proposed taking $6.3 billion from permanent fund earnings, with roughly half going toward government expenses and the rest to direct payments to residents of about $5,000, as part of a proposal to revive Alaska's pandemic-stunted economy. Some lawmakers agree a stimulus or some kind of aid is in order, but there are concerns about drawing too heavily from the fund. Sen. Gary Stevens, a Kodiak Republican, said he'd favour more targeted aid to those who need help most. He said he's not sure disbursing super-size dividends is the answer. About one-fourth of the 40-member state House is new this year, while two of the Senate's 20 members are new. Micciche said it's not “a great time to be a populist in the Alaska Legislature. We're all going to have to be realists and be honest with the public." “If you've got legislators that are sort of protective of one type of service or another or just want a full (dividend) without talking about sustainability or are completely resistant to discussions on something like a sales tax, then you have no potential for forward motion,” the Republican senator said. “All of those difficult subjects have to be on the table this year.” Dunleavy has called for a constitutional amendment requiring Alaskans to vote on new taxes. Becky Bohrer, The Associated Press
After being "overwhelmed" with 911 calls on the latest pandemic restrictions, Windsor police have provided more information about how they will enforce the rules. The police service said officers won't enter homes, stop cars or people for the sole purpose of enforcing the stay-at-home order and provincial emergency. Further, no one is required to carry proof that they are going to work, the police service said in a statement Friday. If an officer has "reasonable grounds" to think that someone has violated the Reopening Ontario Act or the emergency declaration, officers can ask for ID in order to issue a fine or summons. Failing to properly identify yourself can lead to a fine or obstruction charges. "We will continue to monitor for COVID-19 compliance and respond to COVID-19-related complaints, as required. We will undertake enforcement actions, as necessary, under the legislation," the police service stated. New order sparks questions, criticism Under the stay-at-home order that took effect last Thursday, people can only leave their homes for essential reasons. There is a long list of exceptions, including going out for exercise or essential work, buying groceries and picking up prescriptions. Under the new order, officers can order people attending gatherings to go home, close any building where they believe an illegal event is taking place, and ask for the name and address of anyone they think is committing an offence. Charges can be laid through a ticket or summons to appear in court. The minimum fine for violating provincial gathering rules is $750. For those organizing illegal gatherings, there's a minimum fine of $10,000 and up to a year in jail. Within Windsor and across the province, the new rules have led to questions about how law enforcement will be ensuring compliance. They've also prompted concerns that people from visible minority groups could be disproportionately targeted by enforcement efforts. Police see uptick in 911 calls Windsor police have asked the public not to call 911 regarding the stay-at-home order, saying operators have been "overwhelmed" with calls. On Friday, the police service said it had received 200 non-emergency and 911 calls related to COVID-19 and the new order since Tuesday. "Any call to 911 that is not an emergency can take precious seconds away from a person trying to get through on 911 for a true emergency, where seconds may count for them," police said in an emailed statement.
Contrairement à d’autres secteurs de l’économie, l’industrie du bois tire bien son épingle du jeu en cette ère de pandémie, si ce n’est de la complexité introduite dans la gestion du travail. Selon le directeur général du développement corporatif chez Chantiers Chibougamau, Frédéric Verreault, on a construit des maisons en Amérique du Nord en 2020 à peu près autant qu’en 2019. Pour ce qui est du secteur des pâtes et papiers, M. Verreault souligne que l’usine de Lebel-sur-Quévillon produit de la pâte kraft essentielle à des produits d’emballage alimentaire, à des papiers tissus pour les masqueset jusqu’au papier de toilette. Le président de Barrette-Chapais, Benoît Barrette, abonde dans le même sens. « Les gens investissent dans leur demeure parce qu’ils sont obligés de passer du temps chez eux. Le bois s’inscrit dans les investissements qu’ils font. À notre usine, nous faisons de la clôture, des fermes de toit et des solives de plancher. Ce sonttous des produits très en demande. » Pas de mises à pied « Dans le secteur du bois d’œuvre, les commandes ont augmenté », observe M. Barrette. Notammentpour les sommiers de lit, pour lesquels sa compagnie fabrique des composantes. Plusieurs usines ont fermé au début de la COVID,mais ensuite les commandes sont reparties à la hausse. En définitive, le nombre d’employés reste sensiblement la même chez ces joueurs majeurs de l’industrie, hormis au bureau de Montréal de Chantiers Chibougamau, responsable notamment du développement technique des produits et de l’interface avec le marché. Ce bureau est fermé depuis la mi-mars même si de nouveaux employésont été engagés il y a deux mois. Chez Barrette, on cherche même à embaucher trois employés, entre autres pour les opérations de chariot-élévateur. « On a diminué des heures de production à différents temps de la pandémie, dit Benoît Barrette, mais on a été en mesure de tenir le cap. » Combler le retard Une des grandes difficultés introduites par la pandémie est que certains fabricants de matériaux de la chained’approvisionnement ont suspendu leurs activités pendant parfois jusqu’àsix semaines. Des compagnies comme Barrette Chapais et Chantiers Chibougamau ont donc eu moins de temps pour fabriquer et livrer leurs matériaux de construction. « Il y a un chaos sur plusieurs fronts [...], de dire Frédéric Verreault. Nous sommes sous pression pour livrer au marché. On nepeut pas lever le pied, mais on s’adapte. » À cet arrêt temporaire de fabrication s’ajoutentla raréfaction de certains matériaux et l’augmentation de leur prix, par exemple pour les panneaux de particules OSB.« On doit tous faire preuve de compréhension, de résilience et d’adaptabilité dans les circonstances, analyse M. Verreault. À Chibougamau et Landrienne, nous répondons à des besoins très concrets. Les matériaux qu’on fabrique aujourd’hui vont servir à construire des maisons dans quelques semaines [...] pour des gens qui doivent libérer leur appartement ou leur maison à une date déjà convenue. Si on ne livre pas, plein de gens vont se ramasser à la rue […]. » Selon M. Verreault, tout indique que 2021-2022 sera très occupé pour récupérer les constructions qui ont pu être reportées. Vigilance Alors que la scierie Résolu de Girardville a dû temporairement cesser ses activités en raison d’une éclosion de COVID, chez Chantiers Chibougamau et Barrette Chapais, on touche… du bois. Et on reste vigilants. « Ça [la pandémie] a rajouté des complexités opérationnelles, explique Benoît Barrette, avec les masques, la distanciation. Il a fallu mettre en place différences structures dans nos horaires de travail, […] changer des habitudes dansle cadre de nos interactions. Il y a eu beaucoup de choses mises en place,mais les gens se sont bien adaptés et ça va très bien opérationnellement. […] Nous sommes privilégiés d’être dans un secteur d’activitésoù on a pu continuer à travailler. » Même constat chez Chantiers Chibougamau où, précise Frédéric Verreault, « les humains demeurent fondamentaux. Depuis mars, la firme a travaillé en étroite collaboration avec la santé publique régionale, qui l’a aidée à combiner sa capacité de production et la sécurité des employés. » « Quand j’ai parlé au médecin-chef [...],le 12 mars, je nepouvais pas penser qu’il serait à ce point critique et essentiel au maintien sécuritaire de nos activités », concède le directeur. «Le livre d’instructions n’existait pas. Avec l’automne, nous sommes passésd’un niveau élevé à extrême dans les mesures obligatoires. […] Nous multiplions les actions. » Des escouades de contrôle Depuis l’automne, l’entreprise a instauré des escouades de contrôle dans ses usines et des mesures disciplinaires sanctionnent les employés et sous-traitants qui ne respectent pas lesrèglements. « Les modes d’activités totalement transformés et adaptés, complexifiés sur tous les fronts, analyse Frédéric Verreault, mais on fonctionne à un niveau qui demeure élevé. On a le privilège de maintenir nos activités, mais ça vient avec des responsabilités qu’il faut accepter. »Denis Lord, Initiative de journalisme local, La Sentinelle
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A petition to recall the chair of the Anchorage Assembly for failing to cancel an August meeting because of pandemic emergency regulations is scheduled be put to district voters on the April ballot. The petition to recall chair Felix Rivera was certified by the city clerk Friday, Anchorage Daily News reported. The petition included the required 2,735 signatures of voters from Anchorage’s District 4, the clerk’s office said in a letter to sponsor Russell Biggs. The required number is 25% of the votes cast for the seat in the April 2020 election during which Rivera was elected. The decision on the recall petition can be appealed to Alaska Superior Court, the letter said. The certified petition is expected to be presented to the Anchorage Assembly at its Jan. 26 meeting. The next regular election is April 6, which is within the 75-day window required to hold a recall vote following the assembly’s receipt of the petition. The petition claims Rivera failed to perform his duties as chair when he did not halt an August assembly meeting after another member said the gathering may have exceeded capacity restrictions under a pandemic emergency order. Rivera maintains the recall is “frivolous” and said he believes the attempt will die in court. “I remain confident that it’s not even going to get on the ballot, but we will see,” Rivera said. A group supporting Rivera plans to file a lawsuit against the Municipality of Anchorage and Municipal Clerk Barbara Jones for approving the petition. The recall effort has support among a group of residents upset with the assembly’s recent actions involving pandemic management — including its backing of the acting mayor’s emergency orders and a vote to approve purchases of buildings for homeless and treatment services. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The Associated Press
ZURICH — Kieran Trippier’s ban from playing for Atletico Madrid will resume after FIFA on Monday rejected the Spanish club’s appeal against the defender’s punishment for breaching betting rules being applied worldwide by the English Football Association. Spanish league leader Atletico succeeded two weeks ago in getting FIFA to pause Trippier's 10-week ban that was imposed in December and runs through Feb. 28. But FIFA announced Monday that its appeal committee had dismissed Atletico's case. “As a consequence, the decision of the FIFA disciplinary committee passed on 23 December 2020 is confirmed, extending sanctions imposed on the player by the English FA to have worldwide effect,” FIFA said in a statement. The England international was punished by the FA for passing information on his 2019 transfer from Tottenham to Atletico to be used by friends to bet on. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Lorne Head fell into volunteer firefighting almost by accident. In February 2010, a fire ripped through the fire hall in Baie Verte and destroyed all that was inside, including the department’s two pumper trucks. The department got a replacement vehicle from the west coast, but there was a problem. No one in the department had air brake qualifications and there wasn’t anyone to drive the vehicle. That’s where Head comes in. An employee with the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District, he could operate a vehicle with air brakes, and he agreed to temporarily come onboard. Head has now spent 11 years on the fire department in Baie Verte, the last six of which have been as the town’s fire chief. Lately, he’s been thinking about the future of firefighting in the region and the challenges he faces. One of those is numbers. His department is getting older, and in the last year the department has lost members as they moved away. Right now, the Baie Verte department is down to 21 members. With work commitments, there are 10 to 12 firefighters available for fire calls during the workday. “It is a nervous few minutes to see who is going to respond to the call,” said Head. The challenges facing rural firefighting and how to best navigate those hindrances will be the subject of an upcoming research project being done through a collaboration between the Marine Institute and the province’s fire commissioner's office. It is being funded by a $54,500 grant from the International Grenfell Association, along with contributions from both the Insurance Bureau of Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. Both of those contributions are $10,000 each. The two-year project will examine firefighting strategies and equipment used in volunteer firefighting departments, with an eye on declining populations. At the end there will be recommendations forwarded to departments on how they could best deal with issues through new firefighting methods and limiting risk to the community. “Our role is to gather the information,” said Elizabeth Sanli, a researcher with the Marine Institute’s ocean safety research unit and the project lead. “We’re looking for helpful strategies and helpful tools.” The project will be broken down into three phases, the first of which will have researchers delving into the subject through journal articles, previous research done by firefighting organizations and other documents relevant to what they’re looking to address. They will focus on literature that focuses on challenges faced by other coastal and northern regions with dwindling firefighter numbers. “We want to make (fire departments) effective and as efficient as possible,” said Sanli. From there, in the second phase, the group will formulate the strategies and equipment they’ve identified in the first phase. This could include examining things such as how the number of firefighters and the weather may effect each strategy. The results of the research will be published, and recommendations will be made to communities in the final phase of the project. One strategy Head believes will work is a focus on the regionalization of fire departments to maximize the number of firefighters in any particular region. It also maximizes the equipment necessary and allows the different departments to pursue other complementary goals. Many departments already pledge to help out neighbouring ones, but Head’s idea could mean stronger numbers for a singular department. “I think one of the reasons regional fire departments have to start working is that you have to be able to draw from other towns,” said Head. “Other towns helping us and we’re helping other towns.” Guy Oakley, the fire chief with the New-Wes-Valley Volunteer Fire Department, had an idea that could work with any form of regionalization. He says the province could look at forming a paid regional fire chief position in areas that take on regionalization. Oakley’s department already works well with other fire departments in Bonavista North, he says, but such a position may help with the organization of that work. “I could see that working and making things better that way,” said Oakley. Justice and Public Safety Minister Steve Crocker said he is looking forward to seeing the results of the project. A former firefighter in Heart’s Delight-Islington, he was one of the younger members then and knows how some departments struggle with their aging members. He says the research project will prove valuable in providing a roadmap for how the province helps fire departments through any future challenges. “It’s a strategy,” said Crocker. “It is, how do we provide safety to people in the future.” Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice
The council set up to guide the Northwest Territories government in its economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic has lost a co-chair, and two other members have been replaced. The 17-member Business Advisory Council started meeting in early June to give advice to the minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment on lessening the short-term effects of COVID-19 on N.W.T. businesses, and on longer-term actions the territory can take to help the businesses rebound. On Friday Paul Gruner, president and CEO of Det'on Cho Management LP, the economic development arm of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, said he stepped down recently as co-chair of the council to focus on his company during the pandemic. Jenni Bruce, president of the NWT Chamber of Commerce and regional manager at Midwest Property Management is now the council's sole chair. She said it's too early to say what will happen with the vacancy left by Gruner. Bruce said the two other changes on the council were a result of people leaving the organizations they were named to represent. She said each seat was filled by a person from the same organization that lost its representative. Duc Trinh, representing the Northwest Territories and Nunavut Construction Association, was replaced by Trevor Kasteel, who now represents the construction association. Donna Lee DeMarcke of the Hay River Chamber of Commerce took a position with NWT Tourism, said Bruce. Her spot was filled by Terry Rowe, the president of the Hay River Chamber of Commerce.
OTTAWA — Federal Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole pushed back against attempts to link his party to Trump-style politics on Sunday, saying there is "no place for the far right" in the Tories while accusing the Liberals of divisive dirty tricks.In a statement Sunday, O'Toole asserted his own views on such issues as abortion, gay rights and reconciliation with Indigenous people in Canada while insisting that his party is not beholden to right-wing extremists and hatemongers. "The Conservatives are a moderate, pragmatic, mainstream party — as old as Confederation — that sits squarely in the centre of Canadian politics," O'Toole said."My singular focus is to get Canada's economy back on track as quickly as possible to create jobs and secure a strong future for all Canadians. There is no place for the far right in our party."The unusual statement follows the riot on Capitol Hill, which U.S. President Donald Trump has been accused of inciting and which has since been held up as proof of the dangers posed by right-wing extremists to Western democracy.It also comes on the heels of a Liberal Party fundraising letter sent to members last week that accused the Conservatives under O'Toole of "continuing a worrisome pattern of divisive politics and catering to the extreme right."As one example, it cited the motto used by O'Toole's leadership campaign: "Take back Canada."It also referenced a photo that has been circulating of Conservative deputy leader Candice Bergen wearing a hat with Trump's slogan, "Make America Great Again," and a since-deleted Tory website alleging the Liberals want to rig the next election.O'Toole on Sunday condemned the Capitol Hill attack as "horrifying," and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism by touting his party's support for free and fair elections, the peaceful transfer of power and accountable government.To that end, he lashed out at the Liberals, referencing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's decision to prorogue Parliament last summer as hurting accountability, before turning the tables on the governing party and accusing them of using U.S.-style politics."If the Liberals want to label me as 'far right,' they are welcome to try," O'Toole said. "Canadians are smart and they will see this as an attempt to mislead people and import some of the fear and division we have witnessed in the United States."Former Conservative strategist Tim Powers, who is now chairman of Summa Strategies, believes O'Toole's team saw a "gathering storm" and felt the need to act to prevent the Liberals from painting the Conservatives as beholden to Trumpism.Such action was especially important ahead of what could be an extremely divisive week down in the U.S., where there are fears that Trump supporters and far-right actors will respond to Joe Biden's inauguration as president with violence.Powers suggested it is also the latest act in O'Toole's effort to introduce himself to Canadians and redefine the Conservatives ahead of the next federal election, both of which have been made more difficult by COVID-19.And when Conservatives in caucus make statements or otherwise act counter to his stated positions, Powers said O'Toole will need to "crush them and take them out" to prove his convictions.Shuvaloy Majumdar, who served as a policy director in Stephen Harper's government, welcomed O'Toole's statement while also speaking of the threat that events in the U.S. could pose to the Tories in Canada — particularly if the Liberals try to link them.O'Toole was accused during last year's Conservative leadership race of courting social conservatives who oppose abortion, among other issues. That raises questions about the degree to which he may anger the party's base by taking more progressive positions.But Majumdar suggested many of the populist elements left the Tories for Maxime Bernier's People's Party of Canada and that O'Toole is seeking to appeal to more voters by taking a broader view on social issues while sticking to the party's core economic positions.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 17, 2021. Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version misquoted Shuvaloy Majumdar saying many social conservatives had left for the People's Party of Canada. He actually said many of the populist elements had left.
Le ministère des Transports du Québec (MTQ) répondra aux questions des citoyens de Tadoussac en ce qui concerne le projet de réaménagement de la route 138 à l'approche de la traverse. Une séance d'information publique aura lieu le 20 janvier à 19 h via la plateforme virtuelle Teams. Les résidents de la municipalité intéressés à participer à la rencontre doivent s'inscrire par Internet via le lien suivant : https://forms.gle/j3JpTQfdz6cDDAcFA. Rappelons qu'avec l'arrivée des deux nouveaux traversiers à la traverse de Tadoussac-Baie-Sainte-Catherine, la Société des traversiers du Québec (STQ) a demandé au MTQ de revoir le réaménagement des voies de circulation à l'approche du quai à Tadoussac, sur la rue du Bateau-Passeur. « Ces nouveaux navires ayant une plus grande capacité de chargement, la STQ souhaite que le processus d'embarquement et de débarquement se déroule en respectant l'horaire actuel de 20 minutes par traversée », peut-on lire sur le site du MTQ. Ainsi, le réaménagement comprend une aire de préchargement sur la route 138 à l'approche du quai ainsi qu'une aire d'attente du côté sud de la route, à proximité du quai. Ce réaménagement permettra de rendre le secteur de la traverse sécuritaire pour tous les usagers de la route, d'assurer le maintien des infrastructures routières, ainsi que d'améliorer la circulation et la signalisation routière, entre autres. Pour plus d'infos sur le projet: https://bit.ly/3stpb0uJohannie Gaudreault, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Haute-Côte-Nord