ORLANDO, FLA. —
Squeezed by limits on attendance at its theme parks and other restrictions due to the pandemic, The Walt Disney Co. said Tuesday it planned to lay off 28,000 workers in its parks division in California and Florida.
Two-thirds of the planned layoffs involve part-time workers but they ranged from salaried employees to hourly workers, Disney officials said.
Disney’s parks closed last spring as the pandemic started spreading in the U.S. The Florida parks reopened this summer, but the California parks have yet to reopen as the company awaits guidance from the state of California.
In a letter to employees, Josh DAmaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experience and Product, said California’s “unwillingness to lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen” exacerbated the situation for the company.
DAmaro said his management team had worked hard to try to avoid layoffs. They had cut expenses, suspended projects and modified operations but it wasn’t enough given limits on the number of people allowed into the park because of social distancing restrictions and other pandemic-related measures, he said.
“As heartbreaking as it is to take this action, this is the only feasible option we have in light of the prolonged impact of COVID-19 on our business, including limited capacity due to physical distancing requirements and the continued uncertainty regarding the duration of the pandemic,” he said.
California’s health secretary on Tuesday said the state was close to working out a way to have the theme parks reopen in a responsible way.
“We know that a number of Californians are eager and wondering when that is coming, and we’re working with those industries to put out something that’s thoughtful, allows us to maintain the rest of our framework in a strong way, and really following those principles of slow and stringent to ensure those large activities are done responsibly,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of California Health and Human Services.
Disney officials said the company would provide severance packages for the employees, where appropriate, and also offer other services to help workers with job placement.
Officials with the union that represents the actors who play Disney characters at the theme parks said they were having conversations with Disney officials about how they would be impacted, according to Actors’ Equity Association.
Officials with the Service Trades Council Union, which represents 43,000 workers at Disney World in Florida, said they were having similar conversations.
“We were disappointed to learn that the Covid-19 crisis has led Disney to make the decision to layoff Cast Members,” the coalition of six unions said in a statement.
About 950 workers from Unite Here Local 11 in California will be laid off starting Nov. 1, union leaders said.
Disney officials didn’t offer a breakdown of the layoffs between the Florida and California operations. Walt Disney World in Florida has around 77,000 employees, while the Disneyland Resort in California has more than 30,000 workers.
With its parks closed due to the pandemic in April, Disney furloughed up to 43,000 workers while still paying for their health insurance at its Florida resort. It brought many of them back after it reopened in July. Furloughed workers in California also received health benefits.
In a statement, U.S. Rep. Val Demings, a Democrat from Orlando, said the layoffs showed the need for more coronavirus-related relief from Congress.
“These layoffs show yet again how desperately that assistance is needed by American households and businesses,” Demings said.
Associated Press writers Adam Beam in Sacramento, California, and Amy Taxin in Orange County, California, contributed to this report.
COVID outbreaks reported at Jasper Park Lodge, Calgary Superstore and long-term care facility – CTV Toronto
Jasper Park Lodge is doing a deep clean of the entire hotel and doing “extensive contact tracing” after seven employees tested positive for COVID-19.
Officials say none of the employees who tested positive have been at the hotel for the past seven days or more.
“Alberta Health Services has confirmed that no hotel guests or visitors have been impacted,” read a statement from the company.
“Health officials advise that risk of transmission is low for those who have not been in close contact with these individuals.”
That is one of six outbreaks announced by the province on Friday.
Two new outbreaks were announced in Calgary, one at Revere Mount Royal Long Term Care Home, where 19 cases are active, and at the Real Canadian Superstore in the 3600 block of Westwinds Drive N.E., which has 11 cases.
Six cases were reported at Abstract Dance Academy in Chestermere, all of which have now recovered, and there are 14 cases at the RCMP detachment in Grande Prairie, which are all active.
And there are 15 active cases at the New Life Pentecostal Church in Lethbridge.
An ongoing outbreak at Foothills hospital in Calgary also saw three more healthcare workers test positive.
The province announced 432 new cases of the coronavirus on Friday, which brought the number of active cases in Alberta to 3,651.
Daily and active tallies have set pandemic highs for three and five days straight, respectively.
The bulk of Alberta’s active infections are still in the Edmonton zone with 1,751 cases, but the Calgary zone is closing in on the capital region with 1,307 cases.
Moderna gets 30000 patients for final stage of vaccine trial – BNN
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.
Injunction against First Nations land reclamation camp sparks skirmish with police – CBC.ca
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:
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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