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Good evening, let’s start with today’s top coronavirus stories:

Ontario had $12-billion in contingency funds as COVID-19′s second wave hit, report says

Ontario had $12-billion in unspent contingency funds by the end of September, even as schools resumed with larger-than-recommended class sizes and virus testing centres were overwhelmed, according to a report from the province’s independent fiscal watchdog.

The Financial Accountability Office says the unspent reserve was earmarked for three funds: COVID-19 health spending, pandemic support for employers or individuals and a general budget contingency.

The total is $2.7-billion more than the $9.3-billion the office reported as of Aug. 24. That earlier number has been mentioned regularly by the Opposition NDP, which has accused Premier Doug Ford’s government of “penny pinching” instead of better preparing schools, hospitals, testing labs, contact-tracing systems and long-term care homes for the second wave.

In vaccine developments: Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, says the first doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine are likely to be given only to people who can physically be at one of the 14 delivery sites identified by provincial governments for the first arrivals of the vaccine.

She acknowledged at a briefing today that this will make it difficult to get long-term care residents vaccinated first. It is not clear how this jibes with some provincial plans that have put an emphasis on rolling out a vaccine to vulnerable seniors and their caregivers.

And it’s V-Day in Britain: Margaret Keenan, a 90-year-old woman has become the first person in Britain to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19, as the country began a massive vaccination program. The event was broadcast on national TV.

Developing story: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is expected to announce widespread business closings later today after earlier attempts to control the province’s surging COVID-19 infections with less-strict measures failed. Governments sources told The Globe and Mail that the province will order the closing of restaurants, bars, casinos and personal-service businesses such as hair salons. Delivery and takeout will still be allowed.

In photos: Britain begins its COVID-19 vaccination campaign

Opinion: With COVID fatigue setting in, we need a harm-reduction approach to the holidays - Robyn Urback

Read more:

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Pornhub temporarily halts unverified users from posting on its site

Pornhub says it’s temporarily halting unverified users from uploading video material after a report alleged that the pornographic website was showing videos of rape and underage sex.

Visa and Mastercard said over the weekend that they are investigating their business relationship with Pornhub after New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote that the site also carries revenge pornography and other explicit video taken without consent of the participants.

Advocates and a cross-partisan group of MPs and senators are urging the Canadian government to hold Montreal-based MindGeek and its website Pornhub accountable.

Pornhub said it will announce next year ways in which individuals can become verified users; it will still allow new material from partners it knows, such as porn production companies.


Fired U.S. official sues over death threats: Christopher Krebs, the U.S. election and cybersecurity official who was fired last month by U.S. President Donald Trump, has filed a lawsuit over threatening remarks by a lawyer for the President that prompted a wave of death threats against him.

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The Imagine mosaic in the Strawberry Fields section of New York's Central Park today, on the 40th anniversary of John Lennon's killing.CARLO ALLEGRI/Reuters

It was 40 years ago today: On Dec. 8, 1980, music legend John Lennon was shot dead in front of his residence in New York by a former fan. He’s remembered for several Beatles hits, including Strawberry Fields Forever, as well as later releases including Imagine and Working Class Hero. He was 40 years old.

Deli meat recall: The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is warning the public of several deli meats being recalled because of possible Listeria contamination, including Compliments brand Montreal-style smoked meat, smoked-beef pastrami and corned beef, with the best-before date of Dec. 11.

Rashida Jones named MSNBC president: NBC News executive Rashida Jones has been named to replace veteran Phil Griffin as president of MSNBC early next year, which will make her the first Black executive to lead a major U.S. cable network.

Pilot Chuck Yeager dies at 97: The most famous test pilot of his generation was the first to break the sound barrier, and, thanks to Tom Wolfe, came to personify the death-defying aviator who possessed the elusive yet unmistakable “right stuff.”

Lawyer Joseph Arvay dies of heart attack: Arvay helped bring about sweeping legal changes to Canada, including same-sex marriage and the right to a medically assisted death, through decades of passionate courtroom advocacy. He was 71.

Tie for Canada’s athlete of the year: Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Bayern Munich left back Alphonso Davies are co-winners of the Lou Marsh Trophy as the country’s athlete of the year. It’s the second accolade this week for Duvernay-Tardif, who was among five activist athletes named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year.


U.S. stocks closed higher today, with the S&P and Nasdaq setting records, in part due to a boost from the healthcare sector on positive COVID-19 vaccine news, while uncertainty over fresh fiscal stimulus held gains in check. The TSX followed in its path, with energy stocks among the biggest advancers despite a pullback in crude oil prices.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 104.09 points or 0.35 per cent to 30,173.88, the S&P 500 gained 10.29 points or 0.28 per cent to 3,702.25 and the Nasdaq Composite added 62.82 points or 0.5 per cent to end at 12,582.77. The S&P/TSX Composite Index closed up 56.65 points or 0.32 per cent at 17,639.00.

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Will a bylaw really help end street harassment?

“The most effective way to fight sexual harassment isn’t after words are said; it’s before the ideas are instilled in the first place. It starts with culture, and it starts years earlier than any incident, with how that person learned to express their masculinity.” - Jake Stika, executive director of Next Gen Men


Gift ideas for the homebound traveller on your list

From long weekends to summer holidays, it’s likely most if not all vacation plans you had this year were cancelled. But there are still ways to satiate your wanderlust and satisfy the traveller on your gift list. From dream boxes that will transport you to the rugged shores of Fogo Island in Newfoundland to puzzles that will immerse you in a jungle in India, these ideas may be just the thing to get them through until their next getaway.


How do you deal with the pressure to be happy during the holidays?

Though the holiday blues have long been a thing – a 2015 study from the National Alliance on Mental Illness determined 64 per cent of people are affected by depression and anxiety at this time of year, and 24 per cent say the season affects them a lot – the pandemic has compounded matters with added financial and emotional stresses and increased isolation.

“There’s an imperative to be happy around the holidays, which can be tough on people – any year,” says Jennifer Crawford, a pastry chef in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley. “But it’s especially tough this year, with the losses people have experienced – of people they loved, of businesses, of plans for the future, of what they thought the holidays would look like. All of us are going through that this year, which is really weird to think about.”

Finding enjoyment in what has turned into a radically divergent festive season may require a change in perspective and personal priorities – something that has been happening for most of us over the course of the year anyway. Lowered expectations could lead to more joy. Read the full story here.

Evening Update is written by S.R. Slobodian and Dianne Nice. If you’d like to receive this newsletter by e-mail every weekday evening, go here to sign up. If you have any feedback, send us a note.

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