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

Ontario is standing by its new framework on COVID-19 restrictions even as medical experts in the province voiced concerns and the daily new virus cases topped 1,500 today.

Public-health experts and the Ontario Medical Association have criticized the province’s framework as far too permissive to control the spread of COVID-19 and are urging the government to shutter bars and indoor dining in certain virus hot spots. But Health Minister Christine Elliott said the government is not considering changing the thresholds in the new plan and is not looking at any changes for bars and restaurants.

“We’re not considering changing the thresholds in the framework. But we’re monitoring what’s happening in public-health regions across the province,” Ms. Elliott said. “It’s really important that there is that framework there for measurement, so it doesn’t appear arbitrary.”

More coverage:

In Canada:

Alberta to announce new COVID-19 measures in response to surge in infections, but no widespread business closures

Quebec weighs closing schools for up to a month around Christmas amid spike in COVID-19 cases

Does a mask protect me from COVID-19 infection? Understanding the latest public-health guidance

In the U.S.:

‘We are in trouble’: U.S. health officials sound alarm as COVID-19 cases surge across country

Around the world:

Italian Foreign Minister says COVID-19 crisis is ‘out of control’ in southern Italy after video shows dead man in hospital lavatory

Canada opens the door for more Hong Kongers in wake of China’s security crackdown

Ottawa has announced new immigration arrangements to help people from Hong Kong stay in Canada and will create a new work visa to encourage students and young people from the former British colony to move to Canada.

The move responds to China’s new national security law that cracks down on protests and freedom of speech in Hong Kong.

The federal government has already suspended an extradition treaty with Hong Kong and banned sales of military goods, but it has been under increasing pressure at home to help the people of Hong Kong in the face of Chinese government oppression.

More coverage:

Canada condemns China’s ouster of Hong Kong lawmakers but offers no asylum plan

With 3.4 million nationals in Hong Kong, Canada and allies have more influence than they realize: expert

Britain to consider sanctions against China for breaching bilateral treaty on Hong Kong

Shell Canada to offer carbon offset program at pumps to help meet Paris Accord target

Shell is introducing an optional buy-in at the pump program at its gas stations in Canada in an effort to offset emissions from customers' fuel purchases and help it reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The new initiative depends on consumers making the choice to pay extra for their gasoline to offset their driving. Customers who want to buy into the new carbon-offset program will pay an extra two cents per litre at the pump. The cash will be invested in a range of conservation programs around the world.

Shell Canada president Michael Crothers said the shift toward net-zero emissions among oil and gas companies is primarily about signalling to the public that a sector that plays a huge role in driving climate change is doing its part to help turn that around.

More coverage:

Climate-changing methane emissions from oil patch twice as high as previously thought, study finds

Opinion: Biden’s climate plan poses risks for Canada – here’s how we should respond

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Productivity-boosting investments necessary to pay off COVID-19 debts and undo economic damage, Wilkins says: Canada needs to focus on productivity-boosting investments – such as infrastructure, education and retraining, innovation and green technology – if it wants to pay off government debt taken on during the COVID-19 crisis and undo the severe economic damage from the pandemic, Bank of Canada senior deputy governor Carolyn Wilkins said in a speech today.

12-year-old boy hit by stray bullet in Toronto shooting dies from injuries, police say: A 12-year-old boy who was out shopping with his mother died today after being hit by a stray bullet when two men allegedly shot at a moving vehicle in the city’s north end. Charges against the two men were upgraded to first-degree murder after the boy’s death.

First-ever fall Masters tees off after rain delay: Darkness and drizzle greeted Hall of Famers Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus for the honorary opening tee shots as the Masters got under way for the first time in the fall season. The golf tournament was postponed from April because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Restoring Confidence podcast: Why economic and health models get it wrong: Business columnist Rita Trichur speaks with Branko Milanovic, a former lead economist at the World Bank, who discusses the pitfalls of economic modelling and why he’s doubtful that a reckoning is coming on income inequality.


Canada’s main stock index fell sharply today as COVID-19 cases surged across the country. Cineplex lost 9.2 per cent after rallying on Monday on news of the Pfizer vaccine. The S&P/TSX Composite Index closed down 1.17 per cent to 16,577.71.

On Wall Street, U.S. stocks pulled back on as health officials sounded the alarm on record levels of virus cases and investors weighed the timeline for the mass rollout of an effective vaccine. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.08 per cent to 29,080.17, the S&P 500 lost 1 per cent to 3,537.01 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.65 per cent to 11,709.59.

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The people who fought Donald Trump will miss him when he’s gone

“Mr. Trump is gone, and for this the world owes the American voter a debt of thanks. But the sense of commitment to a higher cause that Mr. Trump gave his opponents will be hard to replace. There will be nostalgia not for Mr. Trump, but for the purpose he gave our lives. We all need to find something else to do with our time, our energy and our minds.” – Andrew Potter

Children face a deluge of excess screen time – inside the classroom

“As its role in education expands, the use of technology should be subject to rigorous oversight. Teachers need more guidance on how to make productive use of the ever-increasing range of digital tools at their disposal. School boards should consider throwing less money at new devices, and more at teacher training and support.” – Naomi Buck


Winter tires could save your life – don’t listen to the truthers

If you haven’t got your winter tires on now, you may have to wait a while. This month in Quebec, drivers are waiting up to 30 days to book an appointment. Similar wait times have been reported in PEI, southern Alberta and Calgary. There are some drivers who say you don’t need winter tires, that they’re a con to make manufacturers and automotive shops money. Here’s a word of advice when it comes to these “Winter-Tire Truthers” – ignore them.


Open this photo in gallery:

The 24 Members of Neskantaga First Nations who remained in the community after the chief and council evacuated the community because of an oily sheen discovered on the water plants reservoir tanks made signs all around town voicing their frustrations with living in Canada's longest standing boil water advisory.DAVID JACKSON/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Left behind in Neskantaga and exiled in Thunder Bay, a First Nation still waits for clean water at home

On a table in the corner of the banquet room of a Thunder Bay hotel sits a collection of posters with hand-written messages like “Shame on you #Trudeau” and “We deserve clean water.” They were drawn by children from Neskantaga First Nation, pleading for safe, clean tap water to drink – a basic human right no one under 25 has had in the remote Northern Ontario community.

Neskantaga Chief Chris Moonias says if it weren’t for the pandemic he would be on his way to Parliament Hill and Queen’s Park to deliver those messages and show the governments how living under the longest-standing boil water advisory in the country has affected his community.

The First Nation is in the fourth week of an evacuation to Thunder Bay that began after the community’s water plant was shut down because an oily sheen was visible in the water reservoir.

Urgent efforts are under way to fix the situation and get residents back before temperatures drop and pipes are at risk of freezing in unattended homes.

Evening Update is written by Omair Quadri. 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.