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'All hands on deck' after 19 people contract COVID-19 on Little Grand Rapids First Nation: grand chief – CBC.ca

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Nineteen people have tested positive for COVID-19 on Little Grand Rapids First Nation, the community’s leadership said on Sunday night

“After receiving confirmation of positive cases within our community, we quickly responded and have moved into our next phase of pandemic planning to manage cases and keep the community safe,” Chief Raymond Keeper said in a joint news release from the First Nation and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.

On Sunday afternoon the province declared an outbreak in the remote northeastern community and moved the region to red, or “critical,” level under its pandemic response system

Several people tested positive for the illness caused by the novel coronavirus after attending events at the local recreation centre between Sept. 24 and 27, the province said in a news release earlier Sunday. 

In the past 24 hours, cases have jumped up considerably in the remote First Nation community, said Arlen Dumas, Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. And with testing and contact tracing underway, Dumas said he expects to see more cases in the community, where living spaces can be cramped.

“I come from a remote and isolated community. I know how communal we live,” he said. “So unfortunately, I know that there will most likely be more cases, but that’s the reality of our existence.”

The Anishinaabe First Nation is roughly 265 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg on the Ontario border.

Events in Little Grand Rapids later linked to COVID-19 cases — which were also attended by people from other First Nations, the province said — included a wedding anniversary that many people in the community were at, Dumas said.

“I think it’s going to be a wake-up call to all those other communities that are remote and isolated like this one,” he said. “You see how quickly it spreads. We have to be very vigilant.”

Little Grand Rapids First Nation is roughly 265 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg on the Ontario border. (CBC)

Strict new rules have been implemented for people on the First Nation: no public gatherings are allowed, only one person per household can leave to get necessities and people have to wear non-medical masks when they go out — but those who work in essential services will still be allowed to go to work.

‘A real concern’

That decision followed discussions and deliberations between the community’s leadership, the Manitoba First Nations COVID-19 Pandemic Response Coordination Team and the province, Dumas said — and it wasn’t taken lightly.

“It’s so restrictive, especially from a remote and isolated community where you’re already feeling the sense of isolation,” he said. “But I believe that those are very important measures. And until we can ensure that we can keep our members in Little Grand Rapids safe, then I guess we all have to do that.”

The community is focused on testing people quickly so those who need to self-isolate — both within and outside of the community — can do so as soon as possible, Dumas said.

After the cases were identified, a rapid response team was sent to the community to support testing and management of cases and close contacts, he said.

The First Nation’s response also includes bringing in people to arrange transportation and other logistical issues and additional doctors and nurses to care for sick people, Dumas said.

“Everybody’s focused. It’s all hands on deck,” he said.

In recent weeks, Winnipeg and many surrounding communities were moved to the orange, or “restricted,” level on the provincial pandemic response system near the end of September, following what officials called a concerning spike in cases in the region. That came after a summer with relatively few new cases across Manitoba, including a 13-day period where the province had no new cases of the illness.

Dumas said he hopes the increase in cases in Little Grand Rapids will send a clear message to people across Manitoba that the illness caused by the novel coronavirus is here to stay until there’s a vaccine — and that people need to continue to be cautious until that happens.

“It’s a real concern. And we have to return back to the vigilance that we had, say, six months ago,” he said.

“I believe not only for First Nations, but everyone in general, there’s a bit of apathy and there’s a bit of this false confidence because we were able to flatten the curve collectively so quickly.”

Another Manitoba First Nation announced a possible COVID-19 exposure on Sunday.

A presumed positive case in Thompson, Man. may have been in contact with people on Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, Chief Marcel Moody said in a statement.

While no one on that First Nation, which is about 670 kilometres north of Winnipeg, has tested positive for the illness, the community has implemented its own restrictive measures.

Until further notice, only two people from each household in the community will be allowed to go to Thompson for supplies, the statement said. Kids won’t be allowed to leave the community, all events (including poker games, church, sweats and ceremonies) need to be cancelled and no non-residents will be allowed to enter the community (except essential workers).

“To avoid another complete lockdown in our community we must all be very careful,” the statement said.

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Moderna gets 30000 patients for final stage of vaccine trial – BNN

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Moderna Inc. has completed enrollment of its 30,000 participants in its final-stage COVID-19 trial, while more than 25,000 volunteers have received their second shot.

The announcement on Thursday is another indication that vaccine trials are moving into their home stretch. Moderna has said it could get an initial readout on whether the vaccine works by late November. The drugmaker is only slightly behind Pfizer Inc., which is working with German biotech BioNTech SE and expects results from its 44,000-person trial as soon as the end of this month.

Moderna shares rose as much as 4.4 per cent on Thursday morning in New York. This year, the stock has more than tripled in value.

Moderna had slowed trial enrollment in September in order to recruit more minorities, a key goal of U.S. health officials. Overall, 37 per cent of volunteers in the trial come from communities of color, the company said. Also, 42 per cent of are at high risk of developing severe cases of Covid-19, either because they are 65 or older or have pre-existing conditions.

Both Moderna and Pfizer say they won’t submit for an emergency-use authorization until they have collected two months of safety data on the participants. That means that even if Pfizer gets positive initial results this month, it won’t submit for an emergency authorization until after it gets the safety results in the third week of November.

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Injunction against First Nations land reclamation camp sparks skirmish with police – CBC.ca

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Blazing wooden pallets and tires blocked one side of a street leading into a southern Ontario community on Thursday, after a skirmish between police and members of a First Nation land reclamation camp. 

The confrontation in Caledonia, Ont., came hours after a judge granted a permanent injunction against the camp’s presence, which has stopped construction of a subdivision. 

A electrical power pole was also set on fire by members of the Six Nations of the Grand River.

People at the blockade said officers with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) used a Taser on one person and fired at least one rubber bullet.

The OPP said police cruisers parked on the street were “heavily damaged” by the protest and that officers responded with “appropriate non-lethal force.” There were no injuries and an investigation is underway, the force said on Twitter. Several cruisers had been used to create a buffer zone between the burning blockade and the public.

Camp spokesperson Skyler Williams said the police ignited the situation.

“It’s another example of the OPP coming in here with violent acts of aggression against people that are just occupying their traditional territory. I think all of us are quite sick of it,” he said.

WATCH | An initial confrontation at the scene:

This footage, provided by Six Nations community members, was recorded at the back entrance to the 1492 Land Back Lane reclamation camp, which was set up by members of Six Nations in July to stop a housing development in Caledonia, Ont. 0:47

Williams said the blockade would last until the people decide it should end. 

“As long as they want to keep pulling guns on our people, as long as the OPP wants to keep committing these acts of violence toward us,” he said. 

“Now we have barricades up and people across the country talking about coming here to support what’s going on. I lay this at the feet of the OPP for continuing these violent tactics of peaceful occupiers of their own territory.” 

Behind the buffer zone created by OPP cruisers, a group of local residents gathered, watching the smoke billow into the air as evening fell. 

Lewis Walker, from Caledonia, said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs to step in and deal with this long-running conflict. 

Ontario Provincial Police cruisers create a buffer zone between a blockade of burning tires and the public on Thursday in Caledonia. (CBC News)

“Why is the conflict is still going on?” said Walker.

“Deep down inside, this is a federal issue, and we’re tired of it … bring that guy down here.”

Earlier, Ontario Superior Court Justice R.J. Harper granted the injunction sought by Foxgate Development and Haldimand County, the municipality that oversees Caledonia, after removing Williams from the proceedings.

Harper, who insisted that Williams was the leader of the effort, said he showed “contempt” for the court by refusing to obey the previous, temporary injunctions, and by insisting the Cayuga, Ont., courtroom was part of the “colonial” court system.

Harper said the court must acknowledge the “abuses that have been put upon the Aboriginal community.”

However, he added, “claims and grievances in our society … must be done respectfully, must be done in compliance with the orders.”

Skyler Williams, spokesperson for 1492 Land Back Lane, speaks to reporters on the reclamation site following the court ruling. (CBC News)

Members from Six Nations of the Grand River, which sits next to Caledonia about 22 kilometres south of Hamilton, set up the camp in July to stop the construction of the McKenzie Meadows development.

The camp, dubbed 1492 Land Back Lane, was raided by the OPP on Aug. 5, triggering a day of road and railway blockades. Demonstrators set tires ablaze and threw rocks and police fired rubber bullets. 

A senior OPP officer said, in an affidavit filed as part of the injunction, that a second enforcement operation could trigger a stronger reaction that could see railways, bridges and power stations “attacked and damaged in retaliation.” The affidavit also said infrastructure could be targeted in other parts of the country. 

Call for chief to step in

Six Nations member Gowenetoh said she wants to see elected council Chief Mark Hill take a stronger role in the evolving situation and approach the traditional government, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council, to find a solution.

“He hears our cries,” she said. “He could rectify this. All he needs to do is go knock on the Confederacy door and say, ‘I’m willing to help us get our lands back.'”

The Six Nations members of the reclamation camp have historical records they say show that the land the development sits on was sold by a squatter to a settler who then received a land patent from the colonial authorities in 1853.

Six Nations member Gowenetoh said she wants to see Six Nations elected council Chief Mark Hill take a stronger role. (CBC News)

The property is part of the Haldimand Tract granted to Six Nations of the Grand River in 1784 for allying with the British during the American Revolution. The granted land encompassed 10 kilometres on both sides of the 280-kilometre Grand River which runs through southern Ontario and into Lake Erie. Six Nations now has less than five per cent of its original lands.

The Six Nations elected council has stated that, according to Ontario court decisions, there was no requirement for a private entity like a developer to accommodate Six Nations for developing lands that were taken illegally in the 1800s. Yet, the council said, Foxgate had transferred 17 hectares of land and $352,000 to Six Nations for accommodation.

Foxgate never consulted with the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council, the traditional Six Nations government, before commencing its project. The Confederacy Chiefs Council has supported 1492 Land Back Lane and deems the property to be in a red zone of land over which it contests title.

The Six Nations elected council has an ongoing court case, filed in 1995, against Ottawa and Ontario over lost lands. It is scheduled to go to trial in 2022.

The Six Nations elected council did not respond to a request for comment.

The Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council could not be reached for comment.

Haldimand County Mayor Ken Hewitt said the blame fell on the federal government for allowing the situation to fester for decades. 

“The federal government has a huge role to play,” he said.

“It has abdicated its duties over the years in giving the people of Six Nations a platform for them to voice their concerns and push those concerns through a process. That is why we are here today.” 

Hewitt said if Ottawa stepped in to negotiate, it may create a path away from what the OPP says will lead to conflict. 

“I would hope there is enough respect between the two communities and ties between the two communities that we can find a better way to bring this to the front of the federal government,” he said. 

Demonstrators from nearby Six Nations have occupied 1535 McKenzie Road in Caledonia since July. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

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Study shows many hospital-owned restaurants, including those in Alberta, operate at a loss – CTV Toronto

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CALGARY —
While Alberta Health Services (AHS) is looking for a company to take over the rest of its laundry services, new data shows many restaurants and cafeterias in Alberta hospitals have been operating millions in the red for years.

AHS announced a request for proposal (RFP) from third-party providers to take over the process of cleaning the massive quantity of linens, towels and other products Alberta’s hospitals use each day.

The province announced it was taking the step toward privatizing many of the services currently offered at Alberta hospitals earlier this month.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro says the RFP will allow the health-care system to discover savings to benefit Albertans.

“By reinvesting savings from initiatives such as contracting out laundry services into the health system, we can improve patient care and ensure Albertans are provided with the best possible health care,” he said in a release Friday.

AHS says more than two-thirds of its laundry services are already provided through a third party, including all the laundry services in the city of Calgary and Edmonton.

It says the transition will save more than $38 million that could be used in other areas to support patient care.

An estimated 428 full-time, part-time and casual employees will be impacted by the change.

“AHS is committed to working with them and their unions throughout this process. AHS anticipates there will be some opportunities for employment with the new vendor(s),” officials say.

HOSPITAL-RUN RESTAURANTS LOST MILLIONS

One of the other areas identified by the health minister’s office as a potential for cost savings was the hospital-run cafeteria services and restaurants.

Data, released earlier this week by SecondStreet.org, shows that many of Alberta’s commercial food locations that operate inside of hospitals posted losses.

The highest losses in 2017/18 and 2018/19, the two years that the organization looked at for its study, were both at the University of Alberta’s main hospital cafeteria.

The main findings of SecondStreet’s study indicate that if hospitals can’t break-even on cafeterias and food kiosks, private companies should take them over.

calgary, alberta health services, restaurants, lau

(Source: SecondStreet.org)

“Several hospitals in Canada have done just that and they’ve been able to turn losses into gains and focus more on helping patients,” said SecondStreet.org president Colin Craig. “Cooks don’t do surgery, and health care administrators aren’t restaurant managers – and it shows.”

‘FINDINGS FIT WITH THE EVIDENCE’

The province says the data compiled by SecondStreet.org fall in line with what it found during its own research, including the MacKinnon report and the recent AHS review.

“The SecondStreet.org findings fit with the evidence,” said Steve Buick, press secretary for Health Minister Tyler Shandro. “We need to find efficiencies in the health system to pay for more services for patients, while ensuring Albertans are protected from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“AHS will contract non-frontline services to independent contractors that can operate more effectively than government. That includes laundry, lab tests, housekeeping, and food services. Contracting of food services will move forward in 2021.”

Buick adds some services at Alberta hospitals are already successfully contracted out to third party companies.

“Nearly 70 per cent of laundry services province-wide, and 73 per cent of community lab tests in Edmonton and northern Alberta.”

He also emphasized that the province’s plans will not necessarily mean any net loss of employment.

“In fact, many staff will simply do the same job for a different employer. Any reductions will be managed through attrition as much as possible.”

calgary, alberta health services, restaurants, lau

AHS says the RFP process for a potential vendor for laundry services could take approximately four months. Implementation would depend on the company chosen to take over the services.

CTV News has reached out for any details on RFPs for restaurants, housekeeping and lab services, the other areas identified for reorganization by Minister Shandro’s office.

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