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Rally for rent control attracts crowd in downtown Halifax – CBC.ca

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Calls for rent control rang out across Halifax Saturday afternoon as a crowd of about 200 people gathered and marched through the downtown core.

The rally, organized by the advocacy group ACORN, started outside City Hall, where the wide-open Grand Parade allowed for physical distancing.

But the demands of the demonstrators were meant for the provincial government.

They want the province to adopt legislation that would cap rent increases at three per cent annually.

Organizer Hannah Wood said they want increases to require justification, maybe for major renovations or repairs.

“And not just willy-nilly the way it is now where they raise it whenever they want and they don’t have to justify it to anyone,” said organizer Hannah Wood.

In the past six months, CBC has reported on rent increases across HRM ranging from 17 per cent to as much as 90 per cent.

About 200 people gathered at Grand Parade outside Halifax City Hall on Saturday afternoon to demand a legislated cap on rent increases. (Taryn Grant/CBC)

With those kinds of rent increases, along with mass evictions and a record-low vacancy rate of one per cent, Premier Stephen McNeil told reporters last month that he recognized housing as a problem — one that his government is trying to address.

He was not, however, keen on rent control, saying it “does not work” because it discourages development. Housing Minister Chuck Porter has repeatedly made the same argument in recent months.

Wood was not satisfied with their response.

“When they say rent control doesn’t work, I think that they are thinking of the landlords and the developers and not of the average person. Rent control does help the situation for the average low-income renter.” 

The demonstrators marched to Province House to close the event on Saturday. It’s there that two years ago the NDP tabled a bill to legislate rent control. The Liberal government has essentially rejected it by leaving it untouched on the floor of the legislature.

‘I’m angry,’ says tenant

Jennifer Ryan was among those who marched to the legislature.

She was recently served notice of a $130 rent increase on her bachelor apartment in Halifax’s west end. That’s a 19 per cent increase over the $695 she had been paying.

Ryan said her landlord threatened to hike the rent by more than 90 per cent if she chose to change the terms of her lease to month-to-month.

“I’m angry about the forced rental increases, the rent evictions, the reasons that so many people that are at or below the poverty line are still forced to pay exorbitant prices,” she said.

Ryan said she can afford to pay the new rent on her $30,000 salary, but just barely.

“What I can’t afford is if something goes wrong. Like if for some reason the pandemic comes back and I’m out of work and I don’t have money [coming in].”

Sharon Fernandez stands outside Province House in downtown Halifax holding a sign calling for rent control, and a guide on tenant rights from Dalhousie Legal Aid. (Taryn Grant/CBC)

Sharon Fernandez said she doesn’t think rent control would completely eliminate housing insecurity, but she thinks it’s part of the solution to the current housing crunch.

As a social worker, Fernandez said she sees people falling into homelessness every day. Helping people find and keep a place to live is a big part of her job.

“It’s heartbreaking to see,” she said. “Like, very disheartening.”

“Today it’s somebody [else], and tomorrow it could be me.”

Lawyer Tammy Wohler was also at the rally Saturday, and said she’s worried about the growing trends of rising rents and mass evictions.

In her work at Nova Scotia Legal Aid, Wohler said tenancy issues make up about half her caseload.

“We’re having a significant housing crisis in Nova Scotia,” said Wohler.

She said she’d like the province to reconsider legislating rent control.

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Ontario reports record-high 1,589 new COVID-19 cases as Toronto, Peel lock down – CBC.ca

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Premier Doug Ford is scheduled to hold a news conference beginning at 1 p.m. at Queen’s Park. Ford’s office says he will be joined by several cabinet members, including the minister of health. 

You can watch it live in this story.


Ontario reported 1,589 more cases of COVID-19 on Monday, another single-day record as Toronto and Peel Region move into a second lockdown.

The new cases include 336 in Toronto, 535 in Peel and 205 in York Region. They drive the seven-day average up to 1,423 after six consecutive days of increases.

Other public health units that saw double-digit increases in today’s update were:

  • Waterloo Region: 83
  • Hamilton: 61
  • Windsor: 56
  • Halton Region: 53
  • Durham Region: 41
  • Ottawa: 40
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 30
  • Simcoe Muskoka: 25
  • Niagara Region: 24
  • Brant County: 16
  • Thunder Bay: 16
  • Middlesex-London: 13

[Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary, which include data from up until 4 p.m. the previous day. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, because local units report figures at different times.]

Sixty of the new infections were school-related, including 51 students and nine staff members. A total of 676, or about  14 per cent, of Ontario’s 4,828 publicly-funded schools have reported at least one case of COVID-19. Three schools are remain closed due to the illness.

The additional cases come as Ontario’s labs processed 37,471 test samples for the novel coronavirus, and 18,394 were added to the queue to be completed. The province reported an overall test positivity rate of 4.6 per cent.

There are currently 13,004 confirmed, active cases of COVID-19 in the province, the most at any point since the outbreak began in late January. 

Nineteen more people with COVID-19 have died, the province said, pushing the official death toll to 3,505. The additional deaths include a man in his 20s, the fifth person in their 20s to die with COVID-19 in Ontario. So far this month, 360 people with infections of the novel coronavirus have died provincewide.

Meanwhile, Toronto and Peel Region have entered the most restrictive tier of Ontario’s pandemic protection plan.

It means that for at least the next 28 days, non-essential retailers can only offer curbside pickup, while restaurants are closed to all but takeout and delivery orders.

Personal services have also been forced to close, but schools and child-care centres remain open.

Premier Doug Ford announced the move on Friday, but it didn’t come into effect until 12:01 a.m. today.

That gave residents of Toronto and Peel the chance to stock up over the weekend, and many did — flooding local malls, even as those facilities extended hours in an effort to prevent too many people from coming at once.

While Toronto and Peel face the strictest measures, other areas of the province are also seeing rules tighten.

Durham Region and Waterloo joined York Region in the red classification today. The rules limit restaurants, gyms and food courts to 10 indoor patrons with social distancing, with even tighter restrictions on private gatherings.

The areas around Huron, Perth, Simcoe, Muskoka, and Windsor-Essex have moved to the orange classification, which caps gatherings at staffed businesses to 50 people indoors, or four per table at restaurants.

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Toronto and Peel Region enter lockdown for at least 28 days – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Toronto and Peel are officially under the lockdown stage of Ontario’s framework for COVID-19 restrictions, meaning that all non-essential retail stores are limited to curbside pickup only and a wide swath of other businesses are closed entirely.

The hard-hit regions entered the category at 12:01 a.m. and will remain under the added restrictions associated with it for at least the next 28 days.

It means that retail stores, with some exceptions for grocers, hardware stores, discount and big box retailers selling groceries, and corner stores, will be prohibited from allowing customers into their stores. Personal care services, like barbers and salons, have also been forced to close and restaurants are now limited to takeout only.

Meanwhile, new rules have went into effect in Toronto and Peel to limit all indoor gatherings to only those who live in the household. The limit for outdoor gatherings has also been lowered from 25 to 10 people.

What is allowed and what is not under a lockdown

“The main thing people can do now is please stay home,” Mayor John Tory told CP24 on Monday morning. “It matters less in the context of achieving the result which kind of stores are close and not closed. It matters more whether people decide to follow the advice, which is if it is at all possible just stay home.”

The province announced the added restrictions for Toronto and Peel on Friday as new cases of COVID-19 continued to surge in both jurisdictions.

In anticipation of the rules going into effect, several malls extended their hours over the weekend and there were reports of long lineups at stores.

Speaking with CP24, Tory said that the strict new rules are an important, even if there is not a lot of data pointing to widespread transmission in settings like retail stores, for example.

“We don’t really know in every single case exactly where people picked up this virus, we just know it is spreading and was spreading in a fashion last week and the week before and the week before that that was clearly unacceptable in terms of the trend line we were on,” he said. “Look it is a sad day today just to see this kind of thing having to happen but again the choice was to not do these kind of things and have a much longer, much broader, much worse kind of lockdown happen latter when we had completely lost control of this thing as you have seen elsewhere in the world.”

While the lockdown will shutter a number of businesses across Toronto and Peel, schools and childcare centres will remain open as will services deemed essential like dentist offices and physiotherapists.

Industries like film production and construction that were largely shut down in the spring will also continue top operate with restrictions.

That means that several major Hollywood productions currently being shot in the GTA will not be halted, including a movie featuring comedian Kevin Hart.  

“I am a little bit concerned that this shutdown doesn’t focus on the largest area of spread. In Brampton our largest source of transmission is industrial settings. Our largest two sectors are transportation logistics and food processing and neither of those sectors are shut down because they are considered essential,” Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown told CP24 on Monday. “So this isn’t truly a lockdown for Brampton. Small businesses have been shut down but with the largest portion of our workforce being essential workers nothing has really changed.”

In addition to the new rules in Toronto and Peel, Durham Region and Waterloo have also been moved into the red category alongside York Region as of today. The rules for that category limit restaurants, gyms and food courts to 10 indoor patrons at a time.

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U.S. could begin COVID-19 vaccine rollout by mid-December, top health official says – CBC.ca

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The head of the U.S. effort to produce a coronavirus vaccine said the first inoculations could happen as soon as 24 hours after the Food and Drug Administration grants approval, which would kick off the largest inoculation campaign in U.S. history starting in mid-December.

“Within 24 hours from the approval, the vaccine will be moving and located in the areas where each state will have told us where they want the vaccine doses,” Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the chief scientific adviser for the government’s “Operation Warp Speed” vaccine program, told NBC’s Meet the Press.

The FDA’s outside advisers will meet on Dec. 10 to discuss whether to authorize the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and German partner BioNTech for emergency use. Slaoui told CNN he expects vaccinations would begin on the second day after approval, Dec. 12.

Moderna Inc is expected to seek approval later in December for its COVID-19 vaccine.

The effort to roll out vaccines across the country of 330 million people comes as U.S. President Donald Trump has blocked the normal transition of government before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on Jan. 20. Slaoui said he hoped for a smooth transition and did not expect the vaccination effort to be derailed.

Vaccines will be distributed based on each state’s population, Slaoui said. Each state will decide who gets the vaccine first with the recommendation that priority be given to health care workers, front-line workers and the elderly who face the highest risks of dying from the virus.

About 70 per cent of the country’s population needs to be immunized to achieve herd immunity, a goal the U.S. could reach by May, Slaoui said.

Millions ignoring Thanksgiving warnings

As new COVID-19 cases continue to surge, millions of Americans are ignoring federal and state warnings to stay home for Thanksgiving to prevent overwhelming already strained hospitals. Many people are trying to get tested before the holiday on Thursday, leading to long lines in New York City and elsewhere.

Testing shortages still plague many parts of the country with most pharmacies offering COVID-19 tests in suburban Chicago were fully booked ahead of Thanksgiving and long lines at state drive-through testing facilities.

Dr. Moncef Slaoui, chief adviser to ‘Operation Warp Speed,’ said about 70 per cent of the country’s population needs to be immunized to achieve herd immunity, a goal the U.S. could reach by May. (Evan Vucci/The Associated Press)

“We’re clearly involved now in a very, very difficult surge here throughout the United States and even globally,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, told NBC.

Last week Biden called the vaccination program a “massive undertaking” and “one of the greatest challenges we will face as a nation.”

The U.S. must distribute tens of millions of vaccines while also combating misinformation about vaccines spread on social media. A recent Gallup poll showed only 58 per cent of Americans would get the vaccine, up from 50 per cent in September.

Incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said it was crucial to have a seamless flow of information between Trump’s coronavirus experts and Biden’s transition team to avoid delays in distribution after Biden takes office on Jan. 20.

WATCH | Who would get a COVID-19 vaccine first and when?

Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh, chair of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, discusses how vulnerable populations will be prioritized when a  COVID-19 vaccine rolls out. 9:01

Biden warned last week that “more people will die if we don’t coordinate.”

The number of U.S. coronavirus cases has surpassed 12 million and rose by more than one million cases in less than a week for the first time.

Deaths have topped 256,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, with many health experts warning deaths will rise to over 2,000 a day in the coming weeks.

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