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Displaced Port aux Basques residents face uncertain future after Fiona

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CHANNEL-PORT AUX BASQUES, N.L. — Denise Anderson shouted a list of items into her phone over the sound of pouring rain, along with instructions on how to find them: clean socks, a new pack of underwear, prized pieces of jewelry and important documents.

Her husband was inside their house that faces the waterfront of Port aux Basques, N.L., days after post-tropical storm Fiona carried destruction through their small southwestern Newfoundland community of about 4,000 people, demolishing homes and claiming the life of a 73-year-old woman.

“I don’t want to go in,” Anderson said Monday from the road overlooking her property. It was strewn with debris — broken pieces of wood, tires, plastic coolers, an upside-down ATV and other vehicles pushed up against the side of the house.

Anderson was concerned about the safety of the stairs inside the house, but the couple needed clean clothes and other essentials to get by while they settle into what might be a long wait for their home to be deemed structurally sound.

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It was the second time returning to their home since the storm hit, supervised by emergency response workers on the quick run for essentials.

“As you can see, I’m going to be quite a while before I’m allowed back in,” Anderson said, her voice breaking with emotion as she surveyed the scene.

Anderson had just moved back to the town she grew up in after more than a decade living in Ontario, but now she and her husband are among the dozens of residents who have been displaced after the storm. Walls and roofs were ripped off some houses, others were swept away into the ocean.

Across the street from Anderson’s home, closer to the angry waves, a neighbour’s red house stands crumpled into itself, an oven spilling from its walls. Similar scenes of destruction were visible throughout the town as emergency responders escorted people into their homes to retrieve items.

Andrew Parsons, who represents the area in the provincial legislature, said at a Monday news conference that finding accommodations for displaced residents will be a major issue.

Shelters and hotels have been made available for those in immediate need. Many like Anderson and her husband are staying with family nearby, but Parsons said finding long-term accommodations for people may require tapping into resources like cabins and homes owned by seasonal residents.

“Luckily we don’t have a situation where people don’t have somewhere to go. Being a small community, people have friends and family,” he said. “That only lasts so long. We need to find those solutions for the next number of months.”

The province is also assessing exactly how many homes were damaged in the storm as it works on a relief fund to help residents either rebuild or relocate, Premier Andrew Furey said Monday.

Channel-Port aux Basques Mayor Brian Button said people have been looking after their neighbours and loved ones who have been displaced. But the scale of the damage has been difficult to grapple with, he said, comparing the situation to a disaster movie in some areas.

“It’s been a hard time for a lot of people,” he said from the town council office building, between meetings and trips into the rain where recovery efforts were ongoing. “Seeing all this devastation in the town I grew up in is very hard.”

Standing outside her home, Anderson said she feels like “one of the lucky ones” to have her house still mostly standing and the support of her “small but mighty” community. But she said she’s not sure she will ever feel safe returning.

“I can’t sleep now, so (I’m) not sure I’m going to be able to sleep when I’m allowed to settle back into my beautiful home,” she said, recalling the day she saw a neighbour being almost swept way and watching “everything just crumble like a bomb went off.”

“The ocean is very scary,” she said, gesturing towards the waves. “I love it. I wanted to be by the ocean. Not so much anymore.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 27, 2022.

 

Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press

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Nunavut reaches $10-a-day average for child care, years ahead of Canada-wide goal

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Families across Nunavut are now paying an average of $10 a day for child care under a Canada-wide plan, 15 months earlier than initially expected and three years ahead of the national goal.

The federal government has signed child-care agreements with every province and territory. It aims to increase the number of regulated child-care spaces across Canada and reduce fees by an average of 50 per cent by the end of 2022 and $10 a day by 2026.

In signing a $66-million agreement in January, Nunavut planned to reach the $10-a-day mark for licensed child care facilities by March 2024 and create 238 new spaces by the end of March 2026.

The territory has said the fee reduction would see families save up to $55 per day per child beginning Thursday. It added that 30 new spaces have been established so far and employees at licensed centres received retention bonuses this year.

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“Bringing fees for licensed child care down to $10 a day will create opportunities for families to improve their well-being and contribute to Nunavut’s economy,” Pamela Gross, Nunavut’s minister of education, said in a statement earlier this month.

Costs of living are high across Canada’s North, from housing and groceries to child care.

“I know child care is expensive in a lot of places. It just seems like it’s really insane up here,” said Madison Stride, who lives in Yellowknife, is mother to a toddler and is expecting her second child early next year.

The N.W.T. signed a $51-million agreement in December 2021 with plans to create 300 new child-care spaces and reach $10 a day by March 2026. The territory said fees have already decreased by an average of 50 per cent with families saving up to $530 a month per child.

“It’s definitely been great saving money,” Stride said. “I really am hoping they take it further.”

Stride said reducing fees to $10 a day would mean families could save for things such as emergencies, health costs that aren’t covered by benefits and post-secondary education.

“It’s one less thing to think about, to worry about,” she said.

But Stride, who is also on the board for Little Spruce Daycare Association, a non-profit working to develop a new daycares in the city, said the current drop in fees has also made finding child care more competitive.

“It was hard to find a licensed child-care spot before and now it’s darn-right impossible.”

Early-learning and child-care providers in the N.W.T. criticized the initial rollout of funding, saying it failed to prioritize staff shortages and the lack of spaces.

In October, the federal and territorial governments announced $4.6 million between 2022 and 2024 to enhance wages for the sector. It said about 300 educators would benefit with licensed programs receiving more than $12,700 per full-time equivalent position in the first year and $16,250 in the second.

The N.W.T. said it created 67 new child-care spaces during the last fiscal year.

Yukon’s early learning and child-care system has been recognized as a national leader. It began its own universal child-care program and lowered fees to an average of less than $10 a day before signing a more than $41-million agreement with the federal government in July 2021.

The territory said since its program began in April 2021, it has created 236 new child-care spaces. It also has one of the highest minimum wages for fully qualified early childhood educators in Canada at approximately $30 an hour.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2022.

— By Emily Blake in Yellowknife

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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A look at how $10-a-day child-care plans have been rolling out across Canada

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Families in Nunavut are now paying an average of $10 a day for child care, the first jurisdiction to achieve the goal under a Canada-wide plan.

The federal government has signed agreements with every province and territory, aiming to reduce child-care fees by an average of 50 per cent by the end of 2022 and to $10 a day by 2026.

Here is how the program is rolling out across the country.

Nunavut signed a $66-million agreement in January with plans to reach $10 a day by March 2024 and create 238 new spaces by the end of March 2026.

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But the territory is ahead of schedule, implementing $10-a-day as of Thursday. It has also created 30 new spaces.

Northwest Territories signed a $51-million agreement in December 2021 with plans to create 300 new child-care spaces and reach $10 a day by March 2026. The territory said fees have already decreased by an average of 50 per cent with families saving up to $530 a month per child.

It has also created 67 new spaces during the last fiscal year.

Yukon started its own universal child care program in April 2021 and reached the $10-a-day average before signing a nearly $42-million agreement in July 2021.

The territory aimed to create 110 new spaces within five years and said it has created 236 spaces since April 2021.

British Columbia was the first to sign on, inking a $3.2-billion deal in July 2021 with plans to create 30,000 new child-care spaces within five years and 40,000 within seven years.

B.C. started a $10-a-day program at select facilities in 2018 and plans to double those spaces to 12,500 this month. As of Nov. 1, there were more than 8,200.

The province said starting that Thursday, child-care fees will be 50 per cent less on average compared to 2019 at participating facilities due to expansion of the $10-a-day program and a fee-reduction initiative.

Alberta signed a nearly $3.8-billion deal in November 2021 with plans to create 42,500 spaces.

The province said as of September, it has created 9,500 spaces and, since January, child-care fees have dropped an average of 50 per cent.

Saskatchewan signed a nearly $1.1-billion deal with plans to create 28,000 new spaces.

As of Sept. 1, fees have been reduced an average of 70 per cent compared to March 2021 levels.

The province has created 3,402 new spaces, plus 1,166 child-care spaces in family and group family homes.

Manitoba signed a more than $1.2-billion deal in August 2021 with plans to create 23,000 new spaces by 2026 and 1,700 extended-hour spaces for evenings and weekends.

It aims to reach $10 a day by 2023.

Ontario was the last to sign on in March. It is to receive $10.2 billion over five years, plus $2.9 billion in 2026-27 with plans to create 86,000 new spaces.

The province said 33,000 new spaces have been created so far.

Quebec signed an agreement in August 2021 with the federal government committing to transfer nearly $6 billion over five years.

In 2021, parents with a subsidized, reduced contribution space paid $8.50 a day for childcare.

New Brunswick signed a $491-million deal in December 2021 to create 3,400 new spaces by the end of March 2026, including 500 by March 2023.

The province says fees were reduced by 50 per cent in June, and 401 spaces have been created since April 1.

Nova Scotia signed a $605-million agreement with plans to create 4,000 new spaces within two years and 9,500 by 2026.

By the end of this month, it said fees will be 50 per cent lower on average compared to 2019.

Prince Edward Island signed a $121.3-million deal with plans to create 452 spaces within two years and reach $10 a day by 2024. In January 2022, fees were reduced from $27 to $34 per day to an average of $25, then further dropped to $20 a day in October.

Newfoundland and Labrador signed a $347-million agreement to reduce fees from $25 a day in January 2021, to $15 a day in 2022, then $10 a day in 2023. It aims to create 5,895 spaces within five years.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2022.

— By Emily Blake in Yellowknife

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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Canadian ‘father’ of evidence-based medicine wins Einstein Foundation award

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A Hamilton researcher has won an international prize worth about 280-thousand dollars for promoting quality in medical research.

In today’s announcement, jurors for the Berlin-based Einstein Foundation Award describe Dr. Gordon Guyatt as a pioneer of evidence-based medicine.

Guyatt, a professor of Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact at McMaster University, developed protocols that help doctors incorporate high-quality, up-to-date research into their treatment decisions.

The annual Einstein Foundation Award recognizes people who have transformed the way medical research is done, leading to better care for patients.

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Guyatt has worked with the World Health Organization to create evidence-based guidelines on whether or not doctors should give COVID-19 patients an antiviral treatment called Paxlovid.

Guyatt says evidence-based medicine didn’t exist until his mentor, the late Dr. David Sackett, paved the way by founding Canada’s first clinical epidemiology program at McMaster University.

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