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Canada to release mask guidelines for children, recommend them for kids aged 10+ – National

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The federal government will be releasing mask guidelines for children returning to school amid the novel coronavirus pandemic by the end of the week, chief public health officer Theresa Tam said.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, she said the guidelines will recommend face coverings for kids aged 10 and up.

“The recommendations will undergo evolution as the evidence changes and we’ll also have to see what happens as we understand transmission in different age groups and what happens in schools.” said Tam.

“We may have to adapt this recommendation as we go along.”

Read more:
Canada’s coronavirus restrictions could last years even with vaccine: top doctors

Tam said “layers of protection” would be needed in order to ensure it would be safe for kids to return to school in the fall, including re-arranging school environments to bolster physical distancing and minimizing physical contact between teachers and students.

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“Older children over the age of 10 transmit as well as an adult. Younger kids, even though they transmit at a lower likelihood, they still can transmit,” she said.

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“I believe in recommending the safest way to open schools. Masks play a role.”

Tam added that schools “should” recommend wearing masks, simply because they provide an extra layer of protection. She also urged Canadians to avoid stigmatizing or singling out children who choose to wear masks in their own volition.

A spokesperson from the Public Health Agency of Canada told Global News was unable to provide more details on what the guidelines would look like, but said more details would be released by Friday.






Ontario and Manitoba announce back-to-school pandemic plans


Ontario and Manitoba announce back-to-school pandemic plans

The debate on whether kids should be wearing masks in school has been ramping up as summer comes to a close.

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A poll released last week by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies found that out of 1,524 Canadians over age 18 surveyed, almost two-thirds said they believed children returning to school should wear masks at least part of the time.

In Alberta, students in grades four to 12 will be required to wear masks in hallways and shared spaces — but not in classes that were proportionately sized.

The province’s education minister, Adriana LaGrange, said Tuesday the province would distribute roughly 1.6 million masks to 740,000 students and 90,000 staff in the fall and supply 466,000 litres of hand sanitizer to schools.

Read more:
Coronavirus: 73% of B.C. parents support mandatory masks for back-to-school, poll suggests

On Thursday, Ontario announced its back-to-school plan, drawing both criticism and praise from educators who claimed the province’s standard class sizes would make it difficult for kids to remain physically distant.

“One of the challenges we have in the elementary school panel (is) that our classes are big,” Craig Smith, president of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) Thames Valley, said in a previous interview with Global News.

“The anxiety (is) we have kindergarten classes that hover around 30 students, primary classes can jump up to about 23 kids, junior grades, 28 to 29, and our intermediate classes, anywhere from 30 to 35 kids.”

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Come September, the province will require students in grades 4 to 12 to wear masks, as well as provide medical masks for teachers and staff.



© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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Finalists announced for 2020 Nature Inspiration Awards from Canadian Museum of Nature

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OTTAWA, Sept. 18, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Canadian Museum of Nature, Canada’s national museum of natural history and natural sciences, is pleased to announce the 23 finalists and the Lifetime Achievement recipient for its 2020 Nature Inspiration Awards.

These national awards, now in their seventh year, celebrate projects by individuals, groups and organizations whose leadership and innovation connect Canadians with the natural world. Due to COVID precautions, this year’s winners will be announced by the museum on November 25 through online means, rather than during an in-person gala ceremony.

The projects led by this year’s finalists, which were selected from among 85 nominations, address topics that include biodiversity and conservation, environmental education, and sustainable practices.

Among them are youth who advocate about the wonder of species diversity, as well as adults who galvanize others to conserve natural areas. Not-for-profits show leadership in education to preserve waterways and forests, engagement of citizen-scientists, and the protection of natural environments. The businesses being recognized show innovation with the development of “green” products, as well as environmental stewardship programs.

This year’s laureate of the Lifetime Achievement Award is spiritual leader, teacher and conservationist Father Charles Brandt, who lives in Black Creek, British Columbia. Now aged 97, the “hermit-priest” is best known for galvanizing volunteers and spearheading a campaign to successfully clean up the Tsolum River on Vancouver Island. This helped revitalize the river’s salmon population, which had declined due to pollution from an abandoned copper mine.

The shortlist for the 2020 awards comprises finalists in six categories: Youth (aged 17 and younger), Individuals (aged 18 and up), Not-for-Profits (small to medium), Not-for-Profits (large), Businesses (small to medium), and Businesses (large).

“Unlike past years, these 2020 awards are being announced at a time when access to nature, and a healthy connection with the natural world, seem more important than ever. Each of the finalists lead by example and inspire us in supporting a sustainable future,” says Meg Beckel, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Nature and Chair/ex-officio member of the selection jury. “We are pleased to recognize the efforts of our finalists, and even though we are forgoing our usual celebration gala, we look forward to acknowledging their achievements online through our website and social media channels.”

The Nature Inspiration Awards are supported by media partners The Globe and Mail and the Walrus. Category sponsors are the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) for the Youth Award, and Ontario Power Generation for the Not-for-Profits (small to medium) Award.       

The jury included Shelley Ambrose, former Executive Director/Co-Publisher, The Walrus; Caitlyn Baikie, Education Policy Advisor, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami; Carolynn Beaty, Director of Granting, The Sitka Foundation; Jack Cockwell, Chairman/CEO, Partners Limited; Philip Crawley, Publisher, The Globe and Mail; Dolf DeJong, CEO, Toronto Zoo; Marti Ford, Executive Director, Arctic Inspiration Prize; John Geiger, CEO, Royal Canadian Geographical Society; Danika Goosney, Vice-President, Scholarships and Fellowships, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council; Geoff Green, Founder and Executive Director, Students on Ice Foundation; and Erica Thompson, Senior National Director, Conservation Engagement and Development, Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Winners for each category receive $5,000 that they can designate to a nature-related program of their choice. The Nature Inspiration Awards are produced by the Canadian Museum of Nature. Full details, as well as profiles of the finalists, can be found at nature.ca/awards.                                                                                                                                      

Here is the list of finalists:
Youth category (aged 17 and under)

  • Vesa Barileva, youth scientist (biodegradable food packaging), Oakville, Ontario
  • Genevieve Leroux, environmental advocate for the Monarch Butterfly, Gatineau, Quebec
  • Grace Gong, founder of Greenshirt, not-for-profit that diverts used clothing from landfill, Mississauga, Ontario
  • Sophia Spencer, author, insect enthusiast and founder of #BugsR4Girls, Sarnia, Ontario

Individual category (aged 18 and up)

  • Nory Esteban, teacher and naturalist, coordinator of Wings over the Rockies bird festival, Port Coquitlam, British Columbia
  • Elin Kelsey, environmental activist and author, Victoria, British Columbia
  • Amanda McConnell, co-founder of Grassroots Albany, a community forum for environmental discussion and action, Toronto, Ontario
  • Gary Schneider, environmentalist and co-founder of the Environmental Coalition of PEI, Stratford, Prince Edward Island

Not-For-Profit category (small/medium organization)

  • International Conservation Fund of Canada, programs to conserve threatened tropical ecosystems, Chester, Nova Scotia
  • Tree Canada, community engagement for tree-planting, Ottawa, Ontario
  • Water Rangers, citizen-science efforts to collect water quality data, Ottawa, Ontario

Not-For-Profit category (large organization)

  • Beaty Water Research Centre, research, education and outreach about aquatic ecosystems, and clean water. Kingston, Ontario
  • David Suzuki Foundation, Butterflyway Project: planting local wildflower, plant and shrubs patches Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Goodwill Industries of Alberta, diversion and reuse of goods from landfill, Edmonton, Alberta
  • Nature-Action Québec, protection and preservation of natural areas in Montreal’s urban areas, Beloeil, Quebec

Business category (small to medium)

  • FireRein Inc, development of bio-based, non-toxic foams for use by firefighters, Napanee, Ontario
  • PBA Tundra Supply, Ltd., research and development of a maple hybrid to grow in adverse soil conditions, West Elgin, Ontario
  • Sans façon, integration of a stormwater treatment facility into the design of an urban public park, Calgary Alberta
  • ULAT Dryer Balls, invention, patent and development of wool dryer balls Parksville, British Columbia

Business category (large)

  • Fresh City Farms, Canada’s largest commercial urban farm, with a sustainable and locally focussed approach, North York, Ontario
  • Nutrien, use of a waste byproduct from the phosphate fertilizer industry to create soil and grow trees. Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta
  • Ontario Power Generation, implementation of biodiversity conservation programs and environmental assessments, Toronto, Ontario
  • TELUS, sustainable business practices towards 2030 carbon neutral goal, including tree-planting program to offset paper usage, Ottawa, Ontario

About the Canadian Museum of Nature
Saving the world through evidence, knowledge and inspiration! The Canadian Museum of Nature provides evidence-based insights, inspiring experiences and meaningful engagement with nature’s past, present and future. It achieves this through scientific research, a collection of 14.6 million specimens and artifacts, education programs, signature and travelling exhibitions, and a dynamic web site, nature.ca.

Information for media:
Dan Smythe
Head, Media Relations
Canadian Museum of Nature
613.698.9253 (cell)
1.800.263.4433
dsmythe@mus-nature.ca

John Swettenham
Chief Marketing Officer
Canadian Museum of Nature
613.868-8277 (cell)  
1.800.263.4433
jswettenhamnature.ca

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University education program still on hold for inmates across Canada

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As university and college students start school this month, inmates across the country will not have access to a program that offers university credits at no cost.

The Walls to Bridges program has been on hiatus at federal prisons and provincial jails since the start of the pandemic shutdown in March as a safety precaution. It’s not clear when it’ll start again, according to Shoshana Pollack, who founded the program in partnership with Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener, Ont. in 2011.

The program has been taught in five federal institutions across Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba and British Columbia, as well as several provincial jails. It’s even been expanded to a jail in Paris, France.

The university or college working with the facility helps fund the course for the incarcerated students with the help of community organizations and charities, and then the other half of the class is made up of students from the school.

“We’re the only post-secondary program in Canada that brings people from outside to study with people on the inside,” said Pollack, who’s also a professor in the Department of Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier University.

The program is an accessible option for students because it doesn’t require an internet connection, which inmates don’t often have access to, said Pollack.

‘Felt like I was a human being’

Rachel Fayter, who was incarcerated at Grand Valley Institution from 2014 to 2017, says she’s concerned for the students who are missing out on the program because of the pandemic.

“For those folks that are locked up, Walls to Bridges might have been their only opportunity to have an education,” said Fayter.

“There’s not very much access to [post-secondary] education, there’s not internet access, the computers are ancient … any kind of mail correspondence you have to pay for the courses yourself. So it’s very difficult for somebody in prison and has no income.”

Fayter, who’s now a third year PhD student in the Department of Criminology at the University of Ottawa, says the program changed her life.

It didn’t happen after the first class, but the confidence it gave her changed her outlook. She became hopeful again.

“In the Walls to bridges classroom, it was the first time in probably a year where I actually felt like I was a human being and my voice and experiences were valuable and respected,” said Fayter.

The classes are taught through a learning circle. The idea is to allow all perspectives into the circle, learn from one another and discover how students’ experiences have shaped how they view the world.

‘Don’t know where I’d be’

Since 2011, there have been 559 inmates across the country who have taken courses through the program.

Rachel Fayter (left) and Shoshana Pollack (second from left) with two other alumni of the program. Fayter says the program changed her life. (Submitted by Shoshana Pollack)

Melissa Alexander is another graduate. She was studying computer systems technology at Seneca College in Toronto before she became an inmate at Grand Valley Institution. 

“When you’re inside, you feel like you have no rights,” said Alexander. “Even when you get out you feel like there’s nothing you can do because you have a permanent record.”

Alexander took four courses over three years through the social work department at Laurier. 

Inmates who complete courses then become part of a collective, helping advise the program going forward. She describes that community as pivotal in helping her forge a path for herself after her release in 2017.

“Without this group, I don’t know where I’d be today,” said Alexander, who now is a peer support worker in Toronto and a carpenter apprentice. She also plans to get her degree in social work with a minor in law.

‘It’s a necessity’

Peter Stuart, chief of education at Grand Valley Institution, says when women come into the prison, they’re often hungry to learn. They want to further their education, he says, and post-secondary education is critical.

“This idea that post-secondary education is a perk for offenders, I think is an outdated concept. I think it’s a necessity,” said Stuart.

“In our society, a high school diploma is obviously essential, but it’s not really enough anymore. Especially if you have a criminal record as an obstacle, you need to have not only the same as what other people have, but if anything something more,” said Stuart.

He says the prison looked at different models such as video conferencing to keep the program going through the pandemic, but Walls to Bridges relies on having students from the outside and inside together in one space without barriers.

“The model that Walls to Bridges uses just couldn’t work while COVID protocols were in effect,” said Stuart.

The women have been taking part in literature exchanges and correspondence while the program is on hold, according to Stuart. He hopes the program will start running again in the spring of 2021 at the prison. 

“As soon as we get the go ahead from public health and provincial and federal authorities, we’ll bring it back in immediately,” said Stuart.

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Government of Canada announces ongoing investments to improve railway safety

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OTTAWA, ON, Sept. 17, 2020 /CNW/ – The Government of Canada is committed to keeping Canadians safe by improving rail safety and increasing public awareness and confidence in Canada’s rail transportation system.

Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, announced funding of more than $25 million over three years for the Rail Safety Improvement Program. This investment will support 165 new projects and initiatives that will increase safety and Canadian’s confidence at grade crossings and along rail lines.

The Rail Safety Improvement Program is an essential component of the Government of Canada’s commitment to improving rail safety and preventing serious incidents. In the past four years, $85 million have been invested in the form of grants and contributions.

Today’s announcement includes funding for:

  • 161 new projects that focus on Infrastructure, Technology and Research, including: safety improvements on rail property; the use of innovative technologies; research and studies; as well as the closures of grade crossings that present safety concerns.
  • Four rail safety Education and Awareness initiatives that focus on reducing injuries and fatalities in communities across Canada.

Quotes

“Rail safety remains my top priority, even as we continue to face the challenges of COVID-19. Over the years, our government’s renewed commitment to rail safety demonstrates our dedication to supporting projects that keep Canadians safe, stimulate the economy, and ensure that our rail network remains one of the most efficient and secure rail transportation systems in the world.”

The Honourable Marc Garneau,
Minister of Transport

Quick Facts

  • Grade crossing and trespassing accidents still cause the most rail-related deaths and serious injuries in Canada.
  • Transport Canada is taking action to implement recommendations from the 2018 Railway Safety Act Review report, including improving grade crossing safety and safer interactions of people and trains. Today’s investment complements efforts to bring together a broader range of partners to work with us to find ways to reduce largely preventable deaths and injuries at grade crossings due to trespassing.
  • This year, Transport Canada is funding four public education and awareness activities, 146 grade-crossing improvements including crossing infrastructure projects, 12 grade crossing closures and three technology and research projects across the country.

Related Products

  • Backgrounder – Rail Safety Improvement Program

Associated Links

SOURCE Transport Canada

For further information: Livia Belcea, Press Secretary, Office of the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, Ottawa, [email protected], 613-314-0963; Media Relations: Transport Canada, Ottawa, 613-993-0055, [email protected]

Related Links

http://www.tc.gc.ca/

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