Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet says he doesn't see a situation where his party will support the Liberals in a confidence vote. On other matters, he says the Bloc will vote in favour of proposals only if they benefit Quebecers.
Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet says he doesn't see a situation where his party will support the Liberals in a confidence vote. On other matters, he says the Bloc will vote in favour of proposals only if they benefit Quebecers.
NORTH HURON – The Howson Dam spillway will be tested for stability to provide information to North Huron council that will ensure the structure’s safety, before any more plans are put in place regarding the dam. A report was submitted to council on Nov. 16 by Jamie McCarthy, director of public works, that included a proposal from Chant Limited to test the spillway, “a passage for surplus water from a dam or reservoir,” according to the Oxford Canadian Dictionary. This testing is to confirm the suitability of the existing concrete for rehabilitation and provide information regarding the dam’s safety if it were to be left in place. After decades of discussion, studies, and proposals, councillors recognize the need to move forward with some form of decision. Even though the money to do yet another study seems redundant, they passed the motion to accept the proposal. In a recorded vote, which passed 5–2, council authorized the first of two phases in the proposal at a total of $46,860 (exclusive of taxes). It will revisit phase two at a later date, once they have some answers from Chant Limited. According to the report, Chant Limited was the only company that submitted a bid for the Howson Dam Request for Proposal (RFP). Chant Limited’s submission was complete and provided costing for Phase One and Two. Phase One is the core sampling, testing, and reporting to North Huron council on the findings. Phase Two is the development of detailed estimates for all costs associated with removing the bridge and rehabilitation of the Howson Dam spillways. Their bid is as follows: A. Phase One – Concrete Spillway Testing - $46,860 B. Phase Two – Project Estimate (AACE Class 3) - $47,835 This engineering will be funded from the existing Howson Bridge Reserve Fund, which has a balance of $93,759. If through Phase One, core sampling and testing provide the outcome that triggers Phase Two, there will be a shortfall of $936. The outcome of Phase One will provide the information necessary for council to begin fundraising to rehabilitate the dam or to assure that the dam can stay in place as it is, safely.Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
ROME — Pope Francis is supporting demands for racial justice in the wake of the U.S. police killing of George Floyd and is blasting COVID-19 skeptics and media organizations that spread their conspiracies in a new book penned during the Vatican’s coronavirus lockdown.In “Let Us Dream,” Francis also criticizes populist politicians who whip up rallies in ways reminiscent of the 1930s, and the hypocrisy of “rigid” conservative Catholics who support them. But he also criticizes the forceful downing of historic statues during protests for racial equality this year as a misguided attempt to “purify the past.”The 150-page book, due out Dec. 1, was ghost-written by Francis’ English-language biographer, Austen Ivereigh, and at times the prose and emphasis seems almost more Ivereigh’s than Francis.’ That's somewhat intentional — Ivereigh said Monday he hopes a more colloquial English-speaking pope will resonate with English-speaking readers and believers.At its core, “Let Us Dream” aims to outline Francis’ vision of a more economically and environmentally just post-coronavirus world where the poor, the elderly and weak aren’t left on the margins and the wealthy aren’t consumed only with profits.But it also offers new personal insights into the 83-year-old Argentine pope and his sense of humour.At one point, Francis reveals that after he offered in 2012 to retire as archbishop of Buenos Aires when he turned 75, he planned to finally finish the thesis he never completed on the 20th-century German intellectual, Romano Guardini.“But in March 2013, I was transferred to another diocese,” he deadpans. Francis was elected pope, and bishop of Rome, on March 13, 2013.The publisher said the book was the first written by a pope during a major world crisis and Ivereigh said it was done as a response to the coronavirus and the lockdown. For Francis, the pandemic offers an unprecedented opportunity to imagine and plan for a more socially just world.At times, it seems he is directing that message squarely at the United States, as Donald Trump's administration winds down four years of “America first” policies that excluded migrants from Muslim countries and diminished U.S. reliance on multilateral diplomacy. Without identifying the U.S. or Trump by name, Francis singles out Christian-majority countries where nationalist-populist leaders seek to defend Christianity from perceived enemies.“Today, listening to some of the populist leaders we now have, I am reminded of the 1930s, when some democracies collapsed into dictatorships seemingly overnight,” Francis wrote. “We see it happening again now in rallies where populist leaders excite and harangue crowds, channeling their resentments and hatreds against imagined enemies to distract from the real problems.”People fall prey to such rhetoric out of fear, not true religious conviction, he wrote. Such “superficially religious people vote for populists to protect their religious identity, unconcerned that fear and hatred of the other cannot be reconciled with the Gospel.”Francis addressed the killing of Floyd, a Black man whose death at the knee of a white policeman set off protests this year across the United States. Referring to Floyd by name, Francis said: “Abuse is a gross violation of human dignity that we cannot allow and which we must continue to struggle against.”But he warned that protests can be manipulated and decried the attempt to erase history by downing statues of U.S. Confederate leaders. A better way, he said, is to debate the past through dialogue.“Amputating history can make us lose our memory, which is one of the few remedies we have against repeating the mistakes of the past,” he wrote.Turning to the pandemic, Francis blasted people who protested anti-virus restrictions “as if measures that governments must impose for the good of their people constitute some kind of political assault on autonomy or personal freedom!”He accused some in the church and Catholic media of being part of the problem.“You’ll never find such people protesting the death of George Floyd, or joining a demonstration because there are shantytowns where children lack water or education,” he wrote. “They turned into a cultural battle what was in truth an effort to ensure the protection of life.”He praised journalists who reported on how the pandemic was affecting the poorest. But he took a broad swipe at unnamed media organizations that “used this crisis to persuade people that foreigners are to blame, that the coronavirus is little more than a little bout of flu, and that restrictions necessary for people's protection amount to an unjust demand of an interfering state."“There are politicians who peddle these narratives for their own gain," he writes. “But they could not succeed without some media creating and spreading them."In urging the world to use the pandemic as an opportunity for a reset, Francis offers “three COVID-19” moments, or personal crises of his own life, that gave him the chance to stop, think and change course.The first was the respiratory infection that nearly killed him when he was 21 and in his second year at the Buenos Aires diocesan seminary. After being saved, Francis decided to join the Jesuit religious order.“I have a sense of how people with the coronavirus feel as they struggle to breathe on ventilators,” Francis wrote.The second COVID-19 moment was when he moved to Germany in 1986 to work on his thesis and felt such loneliness and isolation he moved back to Argentina without finishing it.The third occurred during the nearly two years he spent in exile in Cordoba, northern Argentina, as penance for his authoritarian-laced reign as head of the Jesuit order in the country.“I’m sure I did a few good things, but I could be very harsh. In Cordoba, they made me pay and they were right to do so,” he wrote.But he also revealed that while in Cordoba he read a 37-volume “History of the Popes.”“Once you know that papal history, there’s not that much that goes on in the Vatican Curia and the church today that can shock you,” he wrote.Francis repeated his call for a universal basic income, for welcoming migrants and for what he calls the three L’s that everyone needs: land, lodging and labour.“We need to set goals for our business sector that — without denying its importance — look beyond shareholder value to other kinds of values that save us all: community, nature and meaningful work," he writes.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakNicole Winfield, The Associated Press
LONDON — Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals.The results are based on interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of a vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca. No hospitalizations or severe cases of COVID-19 were reported in those receiving the vaccine.AstraZeneca is the third major drug company to report late-stage results for a potential COVID-19 vaccine as the world anxiously waits for scientific breakthroughs that will bring an end to a pandemic that has wrought economic devastation and resulted in nearly 1.4 million confirmed deaths.Pfizer and Moderna last week reported preliminary results from late-stage trials showing their vaccines were almost 95% effective. But, unlike its rivals, the AstraZeneca vaccine doesn't have to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, making it easier to distribute, especially in developing countries.“I think these are really exciting results,” Dr. Andrew Pollard, chief investigator for the trial, said during a news conference. “Because the vaccine can be stored at fridge temperatures, it can be distributed around the world using the normal immunization distribution system. And so our goal … to make sure that we have a vaccine that was accessible everywhere, I think we’ve actually managed to do that.”The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is also cheaper. AstraZeneca, which has pledged it won’t make a profit on the vaccine during the pandemic, has reached agreements with governments and international health organizations that put its cost at about $2.50 a dose. Pfizer’s vaccine costs about $20 a dose, while Moderna's is $15 to $25, based on agreements the companies have struck to supply their vaccines to the U.S. government.All three vaccines must be approved by regulators before they can be widely distributed.Oxford researchers and AstraZeneca stressed that they aren't competing with other projects, and that multiple vaccines will be needed to reach enough of the world's population and end the pandemic.“We’re not thinking about vaccinations working in terms of one person at a time. We have to think about vaccinating communities, populations, reducing transmission within those populations, so that we really get on top of this pandemic,'' said Sarah Gilbert, a leader of the Oxford research team. “And that’s what it now looks like we’re going to have the ability to contribute to in a really big way.''The results come as a second wave of COVID-19 hits many countries, once again shutting businesses, restricting social interaction and pummeling the world economy.AstraZeneca said it will immediately apply for early approval of the vaccine where possible, and it will seek an emergency use listing from the World Health Organization, so it can make the vaccine available in low-income countries.The AstraZeneca trial looked at two different dosing regimens. A half-dose of the vaccine followed by a full dose at least one month later was 90% effective. Another approach, giving patients two full doses one month apart, was 62% effective. The combined results showed an average efficacy rate of 70%.The vaccine uses a weakened version of a common cold virus that is combined with genetic material for the characteristic spike protein of the virus that causes COVID-19. After vaccination, the spike protein primes the immune system to attack the virus if it later infects the body.The vaccine can be transported under “normal refrigerated conditions” of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius (36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit), AstraZeneca said. By comparison, Pfizer plans to distribute its vaccine using specially designed “thermal shippers” that use dry ice to maintain temperatures of minus-70 degrees Celsius (minus-94 degrees Fahrenheit).Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, said the finding that a smaller initial dose is more effective than a larger one is good news because it may reduce costs and mean more people can be vaccinated.“The report that an initial half-dose is better than a full dose seems counterintuitive for those of us thinking of vaccines as normal drugs: With drugs, we expect that higher doses have bigger effects, and more side-effects,” he said. “But the immune system does not work like that.”The results reported Monday come from trials in the U.K. and Brazil that involved 23,000 people. Late-stage trials are also underway in the U.S., Japan, Russia, South Africa, Kenya and Latin America, with further trials planned for other European and Asian countries.AstraZeneca has been ramping up manufacturing capacity, so it can supply hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccine starting in January, Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said earlier this month.Soriot said Monday that the Oxford vaccine’s simpler supply chain and AstraZeneca’s commitment to provide it on a non-profit basis during the pandemic mean it will be affordable and available to people around the world.“This vaccine’s efficacy and safety confirm that it will be highly effective against COVID-19 and will have an immediate impact on this public health emergency,’’ Soriot said.British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he felt “a great sense of relief” at the news from AstraZeneca.Britain has ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine, and the government says several million doses can be produced before the end of the year if it is approved by regulators.Just months ago, “the idea that by November we would have three vaccines, all of which have got high effectiveness … I would have given my eye teeth for,” Hancock said.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakDanica Kirka And Jill Lawless, The Associated Press
LONDON — Google faces fresh regulatory scrutiny in Britain over plans to revamp its ad data system, after a group of competitors complained to regulators that the changes would cement the U.S. tech giant's online dominance.Marketers for an Open Web, a coalition of technology and publishing companies, said Monday that it's urging the U.K. competition watchdog to step in and force Google to delay the rollout of its “Privacy Sandbox” scheduled for early next year.The new technology would remove so-called third party cookies that store user information on devices, replaced by tools owned by Google. That means login, advertising and other features would be taken off the open web and placed under Google’s control, the group said.The Competition and Markets Authority confirmed it received the complaint.“We take the matters raised in the complaint very seriously, and will assess them carefully with a view to deciding whether to open a formal investigation under the Competition Act,” it said in a statement, adding that if the concerns need urgent attention, it would consider using “interim measures" to stop any suspected anti-competitive conduct pending a full investigation.The complaint follows up on concerns about Google's new system that the watchdog raised in a July report about online platforms and digital advertising. The report recommended the British government adopt a new regulatory approach to governing digital giants making big money from online ads.Google said the new technology will increase privacy for users while also supporting publishers.“The ad-supported web is at risk if digital advertising practices don’t evolve to reflect people’s changing expectations around how data is collected and used," the company said.Google's Chrome is the world's dominant web browser, and many others like Microsoft's Edge are based on its Chromium technology. Google controls more than 90% of the U.K.’s 7.3 billion pound ($8.8 billion) search advertising market, the CMA said in its July report.Marketers for an Open Web said Privacy Sandbox will deny news publishers access to the cookies they use to sell digital ads, which will greatly crimp their revenues.The group said Google’s changes will move the digital ad business “into the walled garden of its Chrome browser, where it would be beyond the reach of regulators.” It wants a delay until authorities come up with long term remedies to mitigate Google's dominance over key parts of the web.Kelvin Chan, The Associated Press
Wuhan, the Chinese city that was ground zero of the coronavirus pandemic, went into lockdown on Jan. 23. Life has returned to nearly normal 10 months later, but residents there still remember the harsh conditions.
BROCKTON – Council has renewed its contract with Veolia Water Canada for five years, for the operation, maintenance and management of Brockton’s water and wastewater. The report presented by director of operations Gregg Furtney outlined Veolia’s history with the municipality, beginning in 2006. The most recent agreement renewal was awarded in 2016, for five years. The term ends in June, 2021. Because the municipality is entering into 2021 budget discussions, staff spoke with Veolia representatives about “what a renewal and amended agreement may look like.” The five-year extension to the present agreement would involve an adjustment to the annual fee from the current rate of $702,645 to $727,376, an increase of $24,731, with subsequent increases based on the previous year’s price plus an adjustment for inflation. Furtney’s report stated there was discussion related to “operations and costs associated with a significant event, such as a pandemic, that could make operating significantly more onerous.” Veolia has stated the COVID-19 pandemic, to date, has not proven to be significantly more onerous. Veolia staff have operated safely and successfully throughout the pandemic. The renewal agreement will include the addition of the Fischer Dairy sewage pumping station and the upcoming Walker West booster pumping station. It also includes additional sampling and operational oversight of the water systems at various community centres including the Bradley School House, Cargill Community Centre, and Elmwood Community Centre. Furtney’s report noted “Veolia Water Canada Inc. staff have been great partners in Brockton. They have highly trained and knowledgeable staff that work hard to provide our residents with safe drinking water and maintain important Brockton-owned infrastructure.” He further noted their response time to emergencies has been excellent. Veolia has donated to the Walkerton Clean Water Legacy Scholarship Fund. There was some discussion among councillors about looking into taking on the task of managing water and wastewater in-house. Furtney said wages alone would make that prospect a daunting one, not to mention the need to purchase vehicles and other equipment. It’s not something that could be planned in a few months. “If, in two years, council wants to do this, we can start planning.” Mayor Chris Peabody stated the municipality has been quite pleased with the agreement with Veolia. He suggested if council were to decide to look into managing water and wastewater in-house, that partnering with another municipality would make it more affordable. “After 15 years, it wouldn’t hurt to evaluate (the possibility),” he said. Deputy Mayor Dan Gieruszak said the Veolia contract is one of the two largest contracts the municipality has – the other is with the OPP. He noted Veolia “appears to be a good partner” for the municipality. Coun. Steve Adams said he supports Furtney’s report. “It would be very expensive and risky to do it on our own,” he said, adding that the agreement with Veolia has provided “good value and safe drinking water” for the municipality.Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
he recent spill in Lake Manitouwabing has been identified by the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. The agency stated that the spill has been determined to be fuel oil/furnace oil. Cleanup of the spill is being led by the Township of McKellar, its consultant and a local cleanup contractor according to Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks supervisor Chris Mahon. “The material leaking has been identified as furnace oil,” wrote Mahon in an email to this newspaper. “The oil was leaking from a nearby home.” On Nov. 13, the township notified residents that a substance was discovered coming out of a culvert near Patterson Lane and Lakeshore Drive. The leak was contained promptly by Adams Bros. Construction, according to the township. As for any long-lasting effects the spill could have on Lake Manitouwabing, Mahon said the ministry did not anticipate any impact. “A small sheen on the lake has dissipated,” he said. “A local environmental cleanup company deployed absorbent booms and absorbent material to contain, recover the (oil).” Asked about the risk of any further incidents, Mahon replied that any tank has the potential to leak if not properly maintained. “We like to remind residents that they should inspect their home heating fuel tanks on a regular basis to prevent leaks,” he said. The Township of McKellar issued a release on Nov. 19 saying that the spill continued to be contained and that there didn’t appear to be any major concerns about water usage in Lake Manitouwabing. “To be cautious, those along Lakeshore to the government dock are advised not to use lake water until the booms are removed,” the release states, adding that additional booms have been installed and are containing the spill to that area. According to McKellar Mayor Peter Hopkins, there hasn’t been an incident like this in Lake Manitouwabing in his 10 years as head of council. “We had a thing at the Ridge that looked like a spill, but it turned out to be red mud,” he said. “So, not to my knowledge.” The leak from the tank has been stopped, but the cleanup of the culvert is still in progress. “There’s no threat to public health,” Hopkins said. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
Users, who could previously share snaps or stories with friends, can now share them directly to Spotlight and garner more followers, Snap said in a blog post https://press.snap.com/introducing-spotlight. Facebook Inc earlier this year launched Instagram Reels - the company's version of TikTok wherein users can record short mobile-friendly videos, then add special effects and soundtracks pulled from a music library.
WALKERTON – Despite an icy wind and requests for people to stay home because of COVID-19, a small group of people went to the Walkerton cenotaph to view an abbreviated Remembrance Day ceremony on Nov. 11. Most people remained safe at home and viewed the ceremony on Facebook. Brief though they were, the ceremonies in Walkerton and Mildmay were fitting and dignified. Although there were no parades, there were many wreaths set in place prior to the ceremony. There was a solemn two-minute silence. And there were heart-felt words from all levels of government. In Walkerton, representatives of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 102 were joined by members of the Ontario Provincial Police, MP Ben Lobb, MPP Lisa Thompson and Brockton Mayor Chris Peabody. The Legion and government representatives gave short speeches thanking those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom, and who continue to do so – members of the Armed Forces, police, emergency services and volunteers. Thompson spoke about a 97-year-old veteran who told her he hopes no one ever has to go through what he did. Peabody summed it up by stating, “Thank you for your service.” The poppies carefully placed beside many of the names on bricks in the walkway said the same thing. We will not forget. Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
GREY-BRUCE – It took from March to May for the number of COVID-19 cases to reach 100. The area didn’t see the 200th case until Nov. 12. Since then, there have been 24 cases of COVID-19 reported throughout Grey-Bruce, with the most recent being three in Southgate. The health unit is working with the Bluewater District School Board to address a case in Northern Bruce Peninsula involving a school. The health unit is handling contact tracing and will get in touch with anyone deemed to be at risk. No school bus routes are affected. As of press time, the total number of cases in Grey-Bruce stood at 224, with 33 active cases. No one is currently hospitalized, and there are no outbreaks in facilities (long-term care homes, schools or daycares). Currently, Grey-Bruce remains Green – Prevent. In order to remain there, the local health unit states on its website, “We must stay vigilant with COVID-19 precautions. We have been seeing a deeply concerning trend of a significant increase in the number of cases locally, and in the number of close contacts of these cases. “These findings are indicative of fatigue related to following public health measures. It is important that we refocus our energy on the basic measures that can keep us safe – the same ones that got us through the spring first wave, including the three Ws of washing hands frequently, watching distance (ideally six feet) and wear face coverings correctly (over both nose and mouth).” The increase in numbers locally led to discussion on what to do about the community recovery centre located in Kincardine. The other community recovery centre in Hanover has been dismantled, with the components stored in case there’s a need. The council there decided it was important to get the ice surface back in use. Neither recovery centre was used prior to the dismantling of the one in Hanover. In light of rising numbers, Kincardine council has agreed to leave the recovery centre at the Davidson Centre in place for now. It’s in a gym, not on an ice surface (like Hanover’s), and public health has given permission for the indoor walking track above the gym to be used. There was some concern expressed at a recent council meeting in Kincardine that if the centre is dismantled, the components will not remain in the area but will be appropriated for use in an area where numbers are much higher. Neighbouring health units are reporting spikes in the numbers of cases, and deaths, including at long-term care homes.Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
HURON COUNTY – Residential development proposals will soon have a comprehensive document to ensure that housing developers understand the community’s goals and expectations. Andrea Sinclair, urban designer for MHBC Planning Urban Design and Landscape Architecture, presented the final Residential Intensification Guidelines (RIGS) to Huron County council on Nov. 4. The motion was approved to accept the guidelines, and staff will distribute copies to local municipalities for information. These guidelines will help when evaluating development proposals and provide the community with more housing choices. The document mainly focuses on multi-unit development and will apply to all residential intensification projects in the county. The guidelines also address residential conversions and Additional Residential Units (ARUs). The RIGS are intended to be used by the builder and development community to guide residential developments. The guidelines address a full range of design considerations, including site layout, building design, parking, and landscaping. The guidelines, not meant to add more red tape to the process, are expected to streamline the process by setting out the design expectations early on and avoiding the development community and planning staff’s back-and-forth. By setting clear design objectives and priorities early in the process, the development community will understand what staff will be looking for when reviewing applications. The RIGS will ensure that neighbourhoods continue to be diverse while maintaining the need to accommodate a growing community. The County of Huron’s website states, “single detached dwellings meet many residents’ needs – but not all of them. When housing takes a wide range of forms, it can better meet the diverse needs of community members: those who rent, families requiring multiple bedrooms, seniors who are interested in downsizing, first time home buyers who can afford a house provided they can rent out the basement unit. “Neighbourhoods are dynamic places; the shifts anticipated in the next 20 years will bring about a renewal of our housing stock and the introduction of more dense forms of housing. This document is a tool to help manage that change and ensure that housing is available – and affordable – for all who call the county home.” For more information or to see the Residential Intensification Guidelines visit the Huron County website at www.huroncounty.ca.Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
WALKERTON – PJ Mack, known outside music circles as Pat McNinch, has been entertaining his neighbours all fall (in good weather), putting on impromptu concerts in his Walkerton driveway. The popular local singer and songwriter had about 100 bookings at the beginning of the year, and played regularly until COVID-19 hit. Then everything stopped – except the music. Mack’s style is deeply personal, with a country-folk sound and words that mean something – songs like “The Message” that he wrote with Tom Traversy and performed to considerable acclaim at the Royal Canadian Legion Br. 102 hall last year. Apart from a few concerts such as Music by the Gazebo at Victoria Jubilee Hall, this year Mack’s stage has mostly been his driveway. It all started when he got together with his old bandmates from Yesterday’s Wine and did a driveway concert for about 50 people. But now Mack is moving to the recording studio. “It will be all original songs,” said Mack. He’s already made at least one sale – a neighbour asked if the CD would feature the songs the musician has been playing in the driveway – and if so, he wanted one. “The CD is something I’ve wanted to do for a number of years,” said Mack. He hopes it will be ready for Christmas. After that, a lot of what happens depends on COVID-19. Mack said, “Who knows how long it will last?” In all likelihood, he’ll be resuming his driveway concerts in the spring, for one simple reason. “People love it,” the musician said.Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
Instead of offering one or more options, some companies are turning health insurance shopping over to employees. A federal rule change last year stoked this new approach. It allows employers to reimburse workers for coverage they bought without paying a tax penalty. The concept sends employees to individual insurance markets where they can find more choices for coverage. It also protects employers from huge annual cost spikes. But it’s a big change for workers who are used to having their employer give them benefit choices every year. This new approach — known as an Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangement or ICHRA — started with coverage plans for this year. More workers will likely see them offered this fall during their company’s annual sign-up window for 2021 coverage. Benefits experts say the idea is drawing interest from employers, but they expect the option to grow slowly over the next few years. “We are seeing much more cautious adoption of it," said Alan Silver, senior director of health and benefits for the consulting firm Willis Towers Watson. Here's how it works: Employees pick a plan that works best for them, sometimes with help from an outside company hired by their employer. Then the employer reimburses them, at least partially, for the cost. Benefits consultants say the accounts can be attractive to companies that have been hammered by insurance costs or want to offer benefits to attract new employees but haven’t been able to afford them. Element Designs, with about 65 employees, switched earlier this year. The Charlotte, North Carolina, custom door maker was facing a 60% price hike for its old coverage plan. That would have followed a 50% increase from the year before. The company couldn’t absorb those hikes. But human resources manager Kymberlee Hernandez said they also couldn’t tell employees in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, “Hey guys, by the way, we’re not going to have health care this year.” “This was definitely a good alternative for us,” she said. The company is reimbursing employees $500 per month for their coverage and another $300 if they have dependents. Employee Olivia Banks found the new approach daunting at first. But a company hired by her employer, Take Command Health, helped Banks figure out which plans would include her doctors and what sort of expenses she could handle. “The benefit on the other side is a plan that’s tailored more towards you,” said the account manager. The federal government estimates that once employers get used to the new rule, more than 11 million workers and family members will get insurance this way. That’s a relatively small slice of the market for employer-sponsored health insurance, which covered about 157 million people last year, according to the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation. HealthSherpa, a company that helps people find coverage in the insurance marketplaces, said it is working with more than 50 employers to start the coverage switch between this month and January. Separately, it also is helping individuals with ICHRAs find coverage through an app it debuted in July. The coronavirus pandemic has strained some employer budgets and made them start thinking about insurance alternatives, HealthSherpa co-founder Cat Perez said. “It’s definitely picked up as the pandemic has played on,” she said. Like with most insurance plans, shoppers will have to read the fine print when they search individual coverage markets. A plan that seems like a bargain could require customers to pay several thousand dollars in deductibles before most coverage starts or deal with much bigger prescription bills than they are used to. “You’re definitely going to reach into your pocket more,” said Katherine Hempstead, a health care researcher with the non-profit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The new option is expected to grow first with small businesses and in places where employers think the insurance market offers enough coverage choices. Beth Carter’s marketing agency, Clariant Creative, adopted the approach earlier this year because more typical employer-sponsored health insurance was both unaffordable and an administrative headache. “Finding the right coverage was just ridiculously painful,” said Carter, whose Naperville, Illinois, business has only six full-time employees. New employee Sara Schleicher was drawn to the idea. Previous employers had high-deductible plans that would have exposed her to big medical bills. The 29-year-old marketing specialist wanted something with more protection partially because she likes to ride motorcycles. She wound up with a low-deductible plan. “I feel better knowing that I have insurance even if I don’t need to use it that often,” the St. Augustine, Florida, resident said. “This really has given me access to options that I might not necessarily have had otherwise.” ___ Follow Tom Murphy on Twitter: @thpmurphy ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Tom Murphy, The Associated Press
These weren’t the piano lessons of my youth. Quite the opposite. Gone was the septuagenarian teacher crowding me on a piano bench at my grandmother’s house, extolling the importance of Christian hymns. “Old Rugged Cross,” “Jesus Loves Me,” “How Great Thou Art." Grandma finally accepted my resignation after a few solid years of protest. Then last spring, as the pandemic droned on, I’d lost my job, and our schools in the Boston area remained closed, I decided to start taking piano lessons again. It had been 30 years. The grand staff was a foreign language and the only key I could recognize was middle C. The first day, I propped up my phone, clicked a Zoom link for our lesson and found an energetic college student staring back at me. I’d been thinking about returning to piano for a while, but never had the free time required for learning a skill until the shutdown in March. It was rainy and frigid in New England, and I needed an antidote for the monotony of pandemic life. Some were tending sourdough starters, others binge-watched Netflix. I started piano lessons. I wasn’t the only one who chose music. NEW WAYS TO PASS TIME “I knew nothing about the ukulele community before COVID,” said Pat Adamson-Waitley, 64, of Edina, Minnesota. Adamson-Waitley had played the ukulele a handful of times, but in March, she said, “I started playing it every day.” She joined Zoom jams with other players, and bought two ukuleles and two songbooks. Summer's warm weather took her away from the ukulele a little, but she still averages 30 minutes of playing time a day. Clubs like the Twin Cities ukulele club, an informal group of about 300 people, have welcomed many people discovering music for the first time, or finding it again. Tom Ehlinger, 69, of Bloomington, Minnesota, leads the club’s weekly Zoom jams. “One thing that’s different about the Zoom jam is that it’s much easier to get to than an in-person jam,” he said. “There’s no traffic.” Since March, Ehlinger has received inquiries from people as far away as New York City wanting to join. “It brings people together solely for the purpose of doing something enjoyable,” he said. NEVER A BETTER TIME As for formal lessons, Andrew Geant, co-founder of Chicago-based Wyzant, an online marketplace for private tutors, said music has become one of the company’s fastest growing areas. Cello tutors in April experienced a 450 per cent increase in students and a 400 per cent rise in lessons from last year, he said. By October, the number had grown to a 4,500 per cent increase in students and a 4,730 per cent increase in lessons. The cost of online lessons is lower than in-person instruction, Geant noted. And if the student and teacher don’t match well, it’s easy to find a new instructor. “Online, you can find the right instructor because you’re no longer bound by geography,” he said. Rashida Bryant, 44, is an Atlanta-based voice instructor through Wyzant who saw her client roster double from April to June, when she had 30 students. Her students range in age from early teenagers to people in their late 60s. “Everybody has different reasons for doing it, but if you’re going to be at home, then this is a better time than any,” she said. A SENSE OF CONTROL Turning to music during bleak times has a long history, said Joy Allen, chair of Music Therapy at Berklee College of Music in Boston. “It gives us choice and control, and we don’t have a lot of that right now,” she said. Music also provides social connection, Allen said, and a link to the familiar. During lockdown, private piano lessons for Andrea Cordero Fage’s two teenage sons in Harrison, New York, stopped, but something new happened. The brothers, whose interest in music has waxed and waned over the years, “came into their own musically,” she said. “I would have never imagined it.” They started playing piano for hours a day. They researched movie soundtracks, like the one to the 2014 science fiction epic “Interstellar,” by Hans Zimmer, and learned the score on their own with the assistance of sites like YouTube. “After dinner, one would play and the other would watch. Then they’d switch,” Cordero Fage said. “I think they fed off each other, saw it as a challenge.” Studying or listening to music can harness our focus, said Melita Belgrave, associate dean and professor of music therapy at Arizona State University. Throughout the pandemic, many people have been watching concerts at home but retaining a semblance of the shared experience. The millions of people who streamed the movie version of the Broadway musical “Hamilton” is an example. “People are finding themselves drawn to the arts and crafts,” Belgrave said. “We are learning new ways to connect with each other.” I haven’t figured out whether my Zoom piano lessons will continue past the pandemic. I've gone from knowing middle C to playing cusp chords, eight-key scales and Mozart. But even if returning to regular life interrupts my lessons, piano will always be one of my best pandemic memories. Tracee M. Herbaugh, The Associated Press
Windsor-Essex has the largest COVID-19 school outbreak in the province, with Frank W. Begley Public School reporting 39 cases Monday, according to the local health unit. Twenty-nine students and eight staff have tested positive for the disease, while another two students are probable cases, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) reported Monday. Based on its investigation, the first case showed symptoms on Nov. 8 and the first test was done on Nov. 15. The school was closed on Nov. 17. The index case is thought to be a staff member. The school remains closed until further notice. "Dismissing the entire school really helped us from a control perspective so that there's no ongoing transmission," Windsor-Essex's medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed said Monday. What's been challenging about handling the outbreak at this school, Ahmed said, are some of the social barriers the school community faces. He noted that some of the families are low income and that might impact their ability to keep their children home, and many have English as a second language, further impacting parents' ability to educate their children. "There are a lot of issues there that have always been there, but I think because of the spread, it is just now showing more and more evident in terms of how some of these families are impacted more than the others," he said. Of the cases reported, a majority are in those between the ages of 10 and 13 years old. The oldest case from the school is a 61-year-old. In total, Ahmed said that 471 staff, students and family members of the school community have been tested. Sharon Pyke, superintendent of education for the public school board, said that Monday is the first day students at the school are going through a full schedule of virtual classes."We're trying to keep a nice schedule for the kids and a nice routine, so that when they come back to the brick and mortar school, they're feeling comforted that that's the same," she said.She said a deep clean of the school started on Friday.Tim Lauzon, health and safety officer for the public board, said he's sending out a team of cleaners 6 a.m. Tuesday and they will likely be in the building until Thursday. He said they'll be dressed in full personal protective equipment and clean everything from the desks and handrails to the floors. He said they did some deep cleaning last week to help out the COVID-19 assessment clinic that the school held over the weekend, but now they'll be re-cleaning those areas used for the clinic and sanitize the rest of the building. "We've had to do deep cleans before, never under these conditions and obviously never for COVID and so that's why we're using two different products to ensure a deep clean and a double hit of high touch surfaces," he said. 'We are in a bad shape right now'On Monday, the region reported 36 new cases — a number that is in stark contrast to where the region was about a month ago when WECHU reported zero new COVID-19 cases on Oct. 21. Of the new cases, 18 are close contacts of a confirmed case, four are community acquired, two are travel related to the U.S., one is a healthcare worker and 12 are under investigation. There are 310 active cases. "Now we are seeing a steep increase in the number of cases, as many of the other jurisdictions and many of the other places are seeing," Ahmed said."The steepness of this curve is significantly higher than what we have seen in the first wave and that is one of the most concerning things." Five long-term care and retirement homes are in outbreak, including: * Leamington Mennonite in Leamington with one staff case. * Riverside Place in Windsor with one resident case. * Berkshire Care Center in Windsor with one staff case. * Lifetimes on Riverside in Windsor with five resident cases and four staff cases. * Iler Lodge in Essex with 17 resident cases and one staff case. There is one community outbreak at a University of Windsor student campus and a workplace outbreak in Leamington's agriculture industry. In addition to the outbreak at Frank W. Begley Public School, W. J. Langlois Catholic Elementary School is also in outbreak, with all staff and students dismissed. As of Monday, the Catholic school board's website says there are two student cases and two staff cases.He said the health unit is currently investigating another possible school outbreak. "It's pretty much everywhere and we need to be mindful of that," Ahmed said, noting that the virus is not just affecting one particular sector or demographic this time around."Everyone you are meeting by default assume they could be positive and take your precautions." Over the weekend, the health unit reported 80 new cases for the region. "We are in a bad shape right now and it can get worse," Ahmed said. The region officially entered the province's orange or "restrict" category Monday at 12:01 a.m. as the COVID-19 case count continues to rise. INTERACTIVE | Use this map to find local COVID-19 outbreaks in schools
TORONTO – The Government of Canada has launched a new initiative to modernize its radioactive waste policy. Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan launched the inclusive engagement process on Nov. 16. and asked the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) to lead the process. A press release from NWMO said all of Canada’s low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste is “safely managed today in interim storage.” An integrated strategy will ensure the material continues to be managed in accordance with international best practices over the longer-term. Building on previous work, the NWMO says this strategy represents a next step to identify and address any gaps in radioactive waste management planning while looking further into the future. “This is important work, and we look forward to lending our expertise to make informed and practical recommendations to the Canadian government on a more comprehensive radioactive waste management strategy for low- and intermediate-level waste,” said Laurie Swami, president and CEO of the NWMO. “I want to thank Minister O’Regan for entrusting us to lead this process.” The Government of Canada will engage interested Canadians, including Indigenous peoples, waste producers, owners, and other government levels. Their objective is to elaborate on the existing policy to provide greater leadership on radioactive waste management and ensure that they continue to meet international best practices. A letter sent to Swami by O’Regan said, “I am requesting the NWMO to lead this dialogue and to develop Canada’s Integrated Strategy for radioactive waste for my review and consideration. I believe that the NWMO is uniquely positioned to lead this work as a leader in used nuclear fuel management and public engagement.” O’Regan said the integrated strategy should build on the plan developed by NWMO for the long-term management of Canada’s nuclear fuel waste. The strategy, he said, should include: • A description of the current waste management situation in Canada in terms of current and future volumes, taking into account potential small modular reactor waste, characteristics, locations, and ownership of the waste. • An update on current plans and progress in advancing long-term management and disposal solutions for Canada’s wastes as well as the gaps that must be addressed. • Conceptual approaches for dealing with our current and future radioactive waste inventory, including technical options for long-term management or disposal of the various waste types and options for the number of long-term waste management facilities in Canada. • Considerations regarding the staging, integration, establishment, and operation of long-term waste management facilities. O’Regan stressed the importance that the NWMO carry out this important task in a manner that is open, transparent, and inclusive. He added that it must be built on a solid foundation of trust, integrity, and respect for all Canadians. “The dialogue should not detract from the NWMO’s current mandate to implement Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel, known as Adaptive Phased Management. That mandate is clear, and your progress to date is commendable,” O’Regan said. “This work needs to continue to progress in an effective and efficient manner. I would also emphasize that this dialogue and the resulting Integrated Strategy are not intended to replace other projects currently in progress.” Karine Glenn, strategic project director for the NWMO, said that the organization looks forward to the process. “For more than 50 years, Canadian nuclear technology has been in our lives – powering our homes, making life-saving medical treatments, and bringing safe food to our tables,” said Glenn. “I look forward to this being a process of informed, balanced dialogue about what we must do to ensure that people and the environment are protected from the remaining hazards of this material long after we are gone.” More details regarding the process will be shared in the coming weeks. Interested individuals and organizations will have various ways to participate while respecting public health directives related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Interested parties are invited to sign up for updates at nwmo.ca/radwasteplanning.Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
Here’s a collection curated by The Associated Press’ entertainment journalists of what’s arriving on TV, streaming services and music platforms this week. MOVIES — The Christmas movie, that yuletide evergreen, is subtly changing. “Happiest Season,” which premieres Wednesday on Hulu, has many of the genre's comforting standards — a homecoming trip, family discord, a secretly planned engagement — but it opens the holiday comedy to a fresh cast of characters, and comes away all the more charming for it. Writer-director Clea DuVall's film — originally planned as a theatrical release by Sony Pictures — stars Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis as Harper and Abby, a couple who travel to Harper's Waspy family for the holidays. Just before they arrive, Harper confesses she isn't out to her family. The spirited supporting cast includes Aubrey Plaza, Mary Steenburgen and Daniel Levy. — “Superintelligence,” too, is a studio film uprooted to a streaming service by the pandemic. The Melissa McCarthy comedy, her latest with director-husband Ben Falcone ("Tammy," “The Boss"), had been headed to theatres but will instead debut Thursday on HBO Max. In it, an artificial-intelligence supercomputer voiced by James Corden tasks McCarthy's unemployed character with saving the world. — Ironically, the week's top Netflix release is the one that's been playing in theatres. After two weeks in select cinemas, Ron Howard's “Hillbilly Elegy” begins streaming Tuesday. The adaptation of J.D. Vance's much-talked-about 2016 bestseller hasn't been a hit with critics ( including this one ), but it's also a kind of regular feature to the season: a big 'ol helping of awards bait, with a handful of big performances by elite actors (Glenn Close, Amy Adams). —AP Film Writer Jake Coyle MUSIC — Miley Cyrus is ready to rock ‘n’ roll on her new album. The pop star recruited some famous rock stars to help on her seventh studio release “Plastic Hearts,” including Stevie Nicks, Billy Idol and Joan Jett. And Mick Rock, the iconic rock ‘n’ roll photographer who has shot everyone from David Bowie to Debbie Harry, photographed the “Plastic Hearts” cover art. But pop fans shouldn’t worry too much about Miley’s rock sound, the album – out Friday – also features a collaboration with hitmaker Dua Lipa and includes producers like Mark Ronson (Amy Winehouse, Bruno Mars) and Louis Bell (Post Malone). — Speaking of Dua Lipa, the Brit has had a major year in music thanks to the success of her sophomore album “Future Nostalgia” and the smash hit single “Don’t Start Now.” She’ll celebrate her big year on Friday with “Studio 2054,” a multidimensional live experience where Lipa is promising fans “a night of music, mayhem, performance, theatre, dance and much more.” The singer said there will be “surprise superstar guests” at the event, and standard tickets costs $11.99. — Grammy-winning Chicago-based rockers Smashing Pumpkins will release a double album on Friday. “CYR” features 20 tracks produced by founding member and frontman Billy Corgan. The band’s 11th album also features founding members James Iha and Jimmy Chamberlin as well as guitarist Jeff Schroeder. “CYR” is the follow-up to 2018’s “SHINY AND OH SO BRIGHT, VOL. 1 / LP: NO PAST. NO FUTURE. NO SUN” – Corgan, Iha and Chamberlin’s first collaborative album in 18 years. — AP Music Editor Mesfin Fekadu TELEVISION — If you like “Bones” and “CSI” but just need more French accents, your best bet is the terrific NOVA special “Saving Notre Dame.” The hour-long PBS documentary airing Wednesday shows the incredible lengths architects, engineers and craftspeople have gone to restore the iconic Paris cathedral stricken by 2019's fire. There is detective work — where did the original limestone come from? — and painstaking efforts to reclaim the building’s glory, like stained glass specialists using cotton swabs to remove toxic lead. Everyone wears wear full hazard protection gear as they navigate a “giant house of cards.” — Can you have a “Saved by the Bell” without Screech? Peacock is hoping fans won't notice that character's absence when its sequel to the popular TV series brings back members of the original cast — Elizabeth Berkeley, Mario Lopez, Tiffani Thiessen and Mark-Paul Gosselaar — but not Dustin Diamond, who played the quirky Screech. In this sequel kicking off Wednesday, Gosselaar is California governor who has a son at Bayside High, Berkeley is a guidance counsellor and Lopez is once again A.C. Slater, now a gym teacher. — It happens all the time: You wake up next to a dead body in a Bangkok hotel. In the case of HBO Max’s adaptation of “The Flight Attendant,” the comedy and darkness work simultaneously. Kaley Cuoco of “The Big Bang Theory” plays an air hostess with a drinking problem whose looney attempts to cover up her part in the death place her in the crosshairs of the FBI. The first three episodes of the limited series premier Thursday, with the first one free now if you're willing to give HBO Max your email. — AP Entertainment Writer Mark Kennedy ___ Catch up on AP’s entertainment coverage here: https://apnews.com/apf-entertainment. The Associated Press
TORONTO — A new study suggests people who visit a hospital emergency room at least twice in 12 months because of alcohol are more likely to die within a year. Researchers at ICES and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health found one in 20 people who ended up in hospital two or more times in a 12-month period for mental and behavioural issues related to alcohol died within a year of their first visit. The risk of death was double for those who went to hospital five or more times. The study looked at nearly 26,000 people in Ontario over the age of 16 who landed in the ER at least twice within a 12-month period between January 2010 and December 2016. Of those, two-thirds went to hospital twice, 22 per cent went three or four times, and 12 per cent had five or more visits. More than two-thirds of those with five or more visits were male, almost half were aged 45 to 64 years, and nearly 90 per cent lived in urban centres, with 40 per cent of those coming from the lowest-income neighbourhoods. Senior author Dr. Paul Kurdyak, a scientist at CAMH and the non-profit research institute ICES, says frequent visits should signal the need to screen patients for problematic drinking and unmet social and health-care needs. The majority of deaths were from accidental poisoning, suicide and trauma, as well as diseases of the digestive system. The study was published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2020. The Canadian Press
The Municipality of McDougall currently has two projects for which it would like to apply for funding under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Plan COVID-19 Resilience Stream. McDougall chief administrative officer Tim Hunt said that if the municipality is approved, it could see $100,000 to support projects. “The two I’d like to move forward with an application for funding is to complete the renovations at the municipal office (and) for accessibility renovations at the Nobel church,” he said during the Nov. 18 council meeting. The municipality is considering taking ownership of the facility as a recreation centre. Hunt said there would be accessibility issues for the entrance, washrooms and general cleanup of the building. “This funding is not going to cover any major renovations we want to do, but it will certainly put us in the position where we can operate the building in a positive (and) respectful manner to the citizens,” he said. Mayor Dale Robinson stated there was flexibility for the money to be moved around depending on the needs of the two projects. Coun. Joel Constable raised the question if there was any thought to replacing the municipal office down the road. “For the amount of money (contractors) were looking for to replace the windows and do some front repairs, it made me think, ‘is it worth doing?’” he asked. The reply from Hunt was, “I don’t see it happening in the very near future … I think this building will last us another few years, for sure.” However, Robinson noted that during the recent wind storm and power outage, it became evident there were some improvements that could be made to the offices. “We have older, outdated electric furnaces heating this building, which is not ideal and we don’t have a generator system that’s capable of powering it,” he said, adding the importance of striking a balance on renovation needs. Council advised staff to move forward with the grant application for the two projects for the Dec. 21 deadline.Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
Ontario’s police watchdog has cleared two Peel police officers of wrongdoing in the Sept. 10, 2019, death of a 34-year-old Mississauga man who died after he was Tasered at a Malton home. According to a Friday news release, Special Investigations Unit director Joseph Martino determined “there are no reasonable grounds to believe that any officer committed a criminal offence in connection with the man’s death.” The man, who has not been named by police or the SIU, died after he was Tasered during an interaction with police after two officers went to the home following multiple calls from family members inside. “Soon after arriving, officers became involved in an interaction with a 34-year-old and shortly after apprehended him,” the SIU report of the incident said. The man was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead soon after arrival. According to the SIU, two Peel officers were called to the home on Morning Star Drive near Cambrett Drive around 9 p.m after a man complained that his brother was acting erratically. After entering the home, the officers found the man agitated, and one of the officers deployed his Taser twice in succession, the SIU said in its report on the case. The Taser appeared to have no effect, and the man then removed its wires and ran toward the front door “yelling and flailing his arms,” the report said. Near the door, the same officer grabbed the man, and during an attempt to arrest him the other officer also deployed his Taser. According to the SIU, the officers were eventually able to overpower the man on the ground outside and handcuffed him with this hands behind his back. Another officer arrived while the man was restrained and, according to the SIU, he continued to yell, kick and struggle until the officers called for paramedics. They arrived around 9:30 p.m. to find the man prone, held down by one or two officers, the SIU said. According to the report, the man appeared to lose consciousness after he was placed on a stretcher, and he was pronounced dead in hospital. Following an autopsy, a pathologist determined the Tasering likely “did not play a major role, if any,” in the man’s death. The pathologist found his cause of death to be from “excited delirium (cocaine and ethanol toxicity) during restraint,” saying “the cumulative effects of agitation and struggles, position with impaired respiratory movements and cocaine likely all contributed to cause sudden cardiac arrest.” Neighbours told the Star the man lived at the home with his mother, and that his father had died recently. The SIU is an arm’s length agency that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault. This ruling comes at a time when the SIU is under increasing pressure from advocates and the relatives of several Peel residents shot or killed by police since 2019. Those cases include: The Nov. 20, 2019, death of Clive Mensah, a 30-year-old mentally ill who died after Peel police Tasered him near his home. The Jan. 7, death of Jamal Derek Jr. Francique, a 28-year-old Mississauga man who was shot and killed by a Peel officer. The April 6 death of D’Andre Campbell, 26, who was shot and killed in his home by a Peel officer. The Mother’s Day shooting of Chantelle Krupka, who continues to undergo physiotherapy after she was shot in the abdomen. The June 20 shooting of 62-year-old Ejaz Choudry, who killed inside his Malton apartment, sparking public uproar and a series of protests. The SIU has been criticized for the length of its investigations and perceptions of low transparency and poor communications with victims’ families. Of those outstanding cases, the SIU has completed its investigation into only Krupka’s case — for which a rookie Peel officer was charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon and careless use of a firearm. In a rare move, the accused officer, Valerie Briffa, resigned soon after she was charged. According to the SIU’s recent annual report, the watchdog took an average of 136 days to close a case in 2019 — or about four-and-a-half months per case. Jason Miller is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering crime and justice in the Peel Region. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him on email: email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @millermotionpicJason Miller, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star