The man accused of fatally injuring Cindy Gladue inside a west Edmonton hotel suite nearly 10 years ago has been found guilty of manslaughter.
The man accused of fatally injuring Cindy Gladue inside a west Edmonton hotel suite nearly 10 years ago has been found guilty of manslaughter.
LONDON — Buckingham Palace said Wednesday it was launching an investigation after a newspaper reported that a former aide had made a bullying allegation against the Duchess of Sussex. The Times of London reported allegations that the duchess drove out two personal assistants and left staff feeling “humiliated.” It said an official complaint was made by Jason Knauf, then the communications secretary to Meghan and her husband, Prince Harry. He now works for Harry’s elder brother, Prince William. The palace said it was “clearly very concerned” about the allegations. It said in a statement that the palace human resources team “will look into the circumstances outlined in the article” and would seek to speak to current and former staff. “The Royal Household has had a Dignity at Work policy in place for a number of years and does not and will not tolerate bullying or harassment in the workplace,” it said. American actress Meghan Markle, a former star of the TV legal drama “Suits,” married Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, at Windsor Castle in May 2018. Their son, Archie, was born the following year. In early 2020, Meghan and Harry announced they were quitting royal duties and moving to North America, citing what they said were the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media. They recently bought a house in Santa Barbara, California, and are expecting a second child. The bullying allegations were reported four days before the scheduled broadcast of an Oprah Winfrey interview with Meghan, which is anticipated to draw a huge audience. It also comes less than two weeks after the palace announced that the couple’s split from official duties would be final. A spokesman for the duchess said she was “saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself and is deeply committed to supporting those who have experienced pain and trauma.” In a 30-second clip released by CBS Wednesday night, Winfrey asks Meghan how she feels about the palace “hearing you speak your truth today?” “I don't know how they could expect that after all of this time we would still just be silent if there was an active role that the firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us,” Markle says. “And if that comes with risk of losing things, I mean, there's been a lot that's been lost already.” The Associated Press
EDMONTON — Alberta is following guidance from a national vaccine advisory panel and increasing the time between COVID-19 doses. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, says the greater lag time will allow more Albertans to be effectively vaccinated sooner. She said the plan is for Alberta to match British Columbia, which announced Monday it will follow the four-month window and get a first dose to everyone who wants one by July. “This change will significantly increase how quickly we can offer Albertans the protection of their first dose,” Hinshaw said Wednesday. “We can all take heart that by getting more first doses to Albertans more quickly, the change I am announcing today brings the light at the end of the tunnel nearer.” Earlier Wednesday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended first and second doses can be to up to four months apart if supplies are limited. The decision was made based on emerging studies in places including Quebec, the United Kingdom and Israel that show even one dose of vaccine can be about 70 to 80 per cent effective. When vaccines were first available late last year, manufacturers Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna recommended two shots spaced three to six weeks apart. Alberta is now into its second round of priority vaccinations. The 29,000 highest-risk Albertans, those in long-term care and designated supportive living facilities, have been vaccinated twice. Seniors over 75 and First Nations people 65 and older are among those now allowed to book their shots. Hinshaw said second dose appointments will go ahead for those who have already booked them, and those who want to book a second shot within the previous six-week window will be able to up to March 10. Starting then, those who book a first vaccine dose will have the second one delayed by as much as four months. Newfoundland and Labrador also announced an extension to four months. Manitoba has said it will bring in a delay. Ontario said it was weighing a similar move and seeking advice from the federal government. The change comes as more vaccine doses are on the way. Along with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, the federal government has approved a third vaccine from Oxford-AstraZeneca. Hinshaw said Alberta expects to soon receive shipments of that vaccine as early as next week. Alberta has so far administered 255,000 vaccinations, with 89,000 people getting the full two doses. Hinshaw reported 402 new cases Wednesday. There were 251 people in hospital, 48 of whom were in intensive care. Twelve more people died, bringing that total in the province to 1,902. Case numbers and hospitalizations are a small fraction of what they were at the height of the second wave of COVID-19 in December. The economy remains under public-health restrictions, which include no indoor gatherings and limited capacities for retailers and restaurants. Premier Jason Kenney announced earlier this week a delay in loosening some rules, given unknowns, such as variant strains of the virus. The strains can spread much faster than the original one, with the potential to quickly overwhelm the health system. Alberta has detected 500 variant cases, and Hinshaw announced Wednesday the first variant case at a continuing-care home. Churchill Manor, in Edmonton, has 27 staff and residents who have tested positive, with 19 of them positive for the variant. “Local public-health teams and the operator are taking this outbreak extremely seriously and (are) working closely together to limit spread and protect everyone involved,” said Hinshaw. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021 Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
The top public health officials in Southwestern Ontario pulled in hundreds of thousands in overtime pay last year for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic. At least two of the region’s medical officers of health received more than $100,000 each in overtime, including Middlesex-London’s top public health doctor, Chris Mackie, and Haldimand-Norfolk’s Shanker Nesathurai. The overtime pay is part of a provincial program to compensate local health units for extraordinary expenses incurred relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. “It was one of the initiatives set up by the province to recognize some of the frontline healthcare workers,” said London city councillor Maureen Cassidy, who chairs the Middlesex-London board of health. “They’ve asked us to keep a tally of all the overtime hours and the dollars for every one of our employees who have worked overtime directly related to the COVID-19 response," she said. Between March 22 and Nov. 14 of last year, the health unit had 47 staff log overtime ranging from 44 to 716 hours. The global pandemic was declared in mid-March. Mackie, the London area's medical officer of health, logged 611 overtime hours during that period, earning a payout of $100,072. His base salary in 2019 was $300,000. “That reflects the leader of an organization that has gone from five days a week, 8:30 to 4:30, to seven days a week, 8:30 until some days, 10 at night,” Cassidy said about the overtime pay. The total staff overtime spending at the Middlesex-London Health Unit was $730,000. Cassidy said public health staff are making “incredible sacrifices” in their personal lives while battling the pandemic. As Haldimand-Norfolk’s medical officer of health, Nesathurai logged 1,100 overtime hours, worth $160,000, on top of a base salary of $240,000. Joyce Lock, the medical officer of health for Oxford and Elgin counties, received just more than $62,000 in overtime pay “for hours worked over and above the regular schedule as well as unused vacation,” according to Larry Martin, Southwestern Public Health’s board chairperson. “The Ministry of Health has provided provincial health units with clear guidelines for allowable COVID-19 expenditures eligible for reimbursement,” Martin said in a statement. “(Lock’s) employment contract . . . allows for overtime payments in specific circumstances – such as those that have unfolded over the course of what is now a year-long pandemic response.” Lock’s salary in 2019 was $288,000. The base salaries of medical officers of health are paid by local health boards based on member municipalities' professional salary scale and benefits policies. Whether an individual medical officer of health is eligible for overtime pay, and how they're compensated, depends on each board’s contract and municipal policies. In Ontario, overtime is paid at 1.5 times the regular pay rate. Most managers and supervisors, usually paid a salary rather than by the hour, aren't typically paid overtime. “In September 2020, public health units were provided with an opportunity to request additional one-time funding from the ministry for COVID-19 extraordinary costs incurred,” Anna Miller, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, said in an email. “Examples of eligible COVID-19 extraordinary costs included overtime for staff if local board of health policies related to overtime allowed for this.” Meanwhile, Lambton’s medical officer of health, Sudit Ranade, did not receive any overtime pay as the County of Lambton’s overtime policy sees employees take time off in lieu. Shari Sterling, executive assistant for Lambton County’s public health services, said Ranade has “some banked hours” but did not specify how many. Lambton submitted $848,429 to the province for reimbursement for COVID-19 extraordinary costs, including staff salaries, accommodation, supplies, equipment and communications. Health units in Huron-Perth, Chatham-Kent, Windsor-Essex and Grey-Bruce did not immediately respond to Free Press requests about overtime expenses during the pandemic for medical officers of health and other staff. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation slammed the overtime pay. “Ontarians hand over nearly half – 45 per cent – of their household income to governments every year in taxes, yet we're still a province struggling with hallway healthcare and chronic problems in long-term care,” said Jasmine Moulton, the federation’s Ontario director. “Then you see governments handing out six-figure top-ups and seven-figure severances to top health officials, and you start to see where the problem truly lies." Moulton said 355,300 Ontarians lost their jobs last year amid the pandemic. “This story is further proof that we're not all in this together." firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter.com/MaxatLFPress Max Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
TORONTO — Some of the most active companies traded Wednesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange: Toronto Stock Exchange (18,320.67, down 100.93 points.) Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU). Energy. Up 14 cents, or 0.54 per cent, to $26.25 on 17 million shares. Canadian Natural Resources (TSX:CNQ). Up $1.45, or 4.01 per cent, to $37.65 on 11.7 million shares. BCE Inc. (TSX:BCE). Telecommunications. Up nine cents, or 0.16 per cent, to $55.57 on 8.2 million shares. The Supreme Cannabis Co. Inc. (TSX:FIRE). Health care. Down one cent, or 3.45 per cent, to 28 cents on eight million shares. Manulife Financial Corp. (TSX:MFC). Financials. Up 12 cents, or 0.46 per cent, to $26.10 on 7.7 million shares. Kinross Gold Corp. (TSX:K). Materials. Down six cents, or 0.74 per cent, to $8.07 on 7.3 million shares. Companies in the news: TransAlta Corp. (TSX:TA). Down 65 cents, or 5.8 per cent, to $10.58. Power generator TransAlta Corp. says it has set a goal to be carbon neutral by 2050 and to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 60 per cent below 2015 levels by 2030. The 2050 target means the company will fully offset all carbon dioxide released from its activities with avoided emissions or by capturing emissions, said chief operating officer John Kousinioris on a conference call to discuss the company's fourth-quarter results on Wednesday. Kousinioris, who is to take over as CEO at the end of March from retiring CEO Dawn Farrell, added achieving the 2050 goal will not require game-changing new technologies. The Calgary-based utility is in the process of retiring its Edmonton-area thermal coal mining operations and converting all of its coal power generation in Canada to natural gas by the end of 2021, while eliminating its last coal generation unit at a facility in Washington state by the end of 2025. Laurentian Bank (TSX:LB). Up $3.62, or 9.9 per cent, to $40.15. Laurentian Bank Financial Group's chief executive says the company will double down on its residential mortgage business as part of a deep review of the bank's business. Rania Llewellyn said on Tuesday the bank will try to simplify the customer and broker experience around mortgages going forward. The bank's announcement came after the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers said on Tuesday that residential sales in metropolitan Montreal fell in February for the first time in six years. The bank said it has acquired some residential mortgage loans from third parties, and has also seen growth in commercial real estate lending. Laurentian Bank beat expectations as it reported its first-quarter profit rose compared with a year ago. The bank earned $44.8 million or 96 cents per diluted share for the quarter ended Jan. 31, up from a profit of $32.2 million or 68 cents per diluted share a year ago. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi’s largest city is still struggling with water problems more than two weeks after winter storms and freezing weather ravaged the system in Jackson, knocking out water for drinking and making it impossible for many to even flush their toilets. Residents in the city of 160,000 are still being warned to boil any water that does come out of the faucets. “I pray it comes back on,” Jackson resident Nita Smith said. “I’m not sure how much more of this we can take.” Smith has had no water at home for nearly three weeks. Smith is concerned about her mother who has diabetes. Her mother and most of the other older people on her street don’t drive, so Smith has been helping them get water to clean themselves and flush their toilets. A key focus of city crews is filling the system's water tanks to an optimal level. But, public works director Charles Williams said Wednesday that fish, tree limbs and other debris have clogged screens where water moves from a reservoir into a treatment plant. That caused pressure to drop for the entire water system. “Today was not a good day for us,” Williams said. He said about a fourth of Jackson's customers remained without running water. That is more than 10,000 connections, with most serving multiple people. City officials on Wednesday continued distributing water for flushing toilets at several pick-up points. But they're giving no specific timeline for resolving problems. Workers continue to fix dozens of water main breaks and leaks. The crisis has taken a toll on businesses. Jeff Good is co-owner of three Jackson restaurants, and two of them remained closed Wednesday. In a Facebook update, Good said the businesses have insurance, but he’s concerned about his employees. “We will not be financially ruined,” Good wrote. “The spirits of our team members are my biggest concern. A true malaise and depression is setting in." Mississippi's capital city is not alone in water problems. More than two weeks have passed since the cold wave shut down the main power grid in Texas, leaving millions in freezing homes, causing about 50 deaths and disabling thousands of public water systems serving those millions. Four public water systems in Texas remained out of commission Wednesday, affecting 456 customers, and 225 systems still have 135,299 customers boiling their tap water, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Also, 208 of the state’s 254 counties are still reporting public water system issues. Bonnie Bishop, 68, and her husband, Mike, 63, have been without water at their Jackson home for 14 days. Both have health problems. She's recovering after months in the hospital with the coronavirus. She's home but still in therapy to learn how to walk again and deals with neuropathy in her hands and feet. She has not been able to soak her feet in warm water, something that usually provides relief for the neuropathy, or to help her husband gather water to boil for cooking for cleaning. Mike Bishop just had elbow surgery. The first week the couple was without water, he still had staples in his arm and was hauling 5-gallon containers from his truck, his wife said. Bonnie Bishop said she told him not to strain himself, but he wouldn’t listen. They feel they have no choice. On Monday, the couple drove 25 miles (40 kilometres) to Mike’s mother’s house to do laundry. Jackson's water system has not been able to provide a sustainable flow of water throughout the city since the mid-February storms, city officials say. The system “basically crashed like a computer and now we’re trying to rebuild it,” Williams said at a recent briefing. The city's water mains are more than a century old, and its infrastructure needs went unaddressed for decades, Democratic Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba has said. “We more than likely have more than a $2 billion issue with our infrastructure,” he said. Jackson voters in 2014 approved a 1-cent local sales tax to pay for improvements to roads and water and sewer systems. On Tuesday, the city council voted to seek legislative approval for another election to double that local tax to 2 cents a dollar. Republican Gov. Tate Reeves would have to agree to letting Jackson have the tax election. “I do think it’s really important that the city of Jackson start collecting their water bill payments before they start going and asking everyone else to pony up more money,” Reeves said Tuesday. Jackson has had problems for years with its water billing system and with the quality of water. Melanie Deaver Hanlin, who was without water for 14 days, has been flushing toilets with pool water and showering at friends’ homes. She said Jackson’s water system “needs to be fixed, not patched.” “That’s the issue now — poor maintenance for far too long," Hanlin said. "And Jackson residents are paying the price.” ___ Associated Press writer Terry Wallace contributed from Dallas. Martin reported from Marietta, Georgia. Jeff Martin, Leah Willingham And Emily Wagster Pettus, The Associated Press
VANCOUVER — A lawyer for British Columbia's attorney general says the provincial health officer understands the importance of balancing any COVID-19 restrictions on in-person gatherings against the charter right to freedom of religion. In a hearing over a petition challenging Dr. Bonnie Henry's health orders, Gareth Morley told the B.C. Supreme Court that Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders both verbally in public briefings and in writing. He says Henry's statements described how rapidly rising COVID-19 cases in B.C. last fall threatened exponential growth that could have overwhelmed the health-care system, and further restrictions were necessary to prevent transmission while keeping schools and essential workplaces open. Paul Jaffe, a lawyer for the group of petitioners that includes three Fraser Valley churches, told the court this week the restrictions substantially and unjustifiably interfere with his clients' charter right to freedom of religion. Morley told Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson that Henry believed accelerating cases constituted a health hazard, allowing her to issue orders that she acknowledged may affect charter rights in a reasonable and proportional way. However, Hinkson questioned whether Henry fully appreciated the right to religious freedom based on Morley's description of her statements related to the orders last November and December. "She talks about needs of persons to attend in-person religious services, but that really wouldn't capture the charter right that's asserted by the petitioners ... would it?" he asked. The orders have since been amended and now include specific reference to the charter and freedom of religion, Morley said, adding Henry has always recognized the importance of religious practice and in-person worship. Morley told the court Henry consulted with faith leaders before issuing the orders last year and invited churches to submit requests for case-specific exemptions in proposals outlining how they could conduct services in ways that minimize the risk of COVID-19 to her satisfaction. Jaffe said during his argument this week that his clients — which include the Riverside Calvary Chapel in Langley, Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church in Abbotsford and the Free Reformed Church of Chilliwack — have been careful to adopt safety protocols similar to those approved by Henry in places that remain open. He said during a separate hearing last month that his clients applied for an exemption in December and did not receive a response. More legal challenges to B.C.'s public health rules have been filed by representatives of 10 other churches that are part of the Canadian Reformed Churches, and by the Roman Catholic archbishop of Vancouver. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
Pembroke-- Concerns about a lack of housing for seniors and the needs of the homeless population have Renfrew County council looking at options for developing a strategy looking at new housing opportunities and solutions. The wait list for County of Renfrew housing units continues to be substantial with 964 applicants representing seniors, adults and families. As well, since the COVID-19 pandemic began 153 homeless people in the county, where the population is slightly over 100,000, have been provided with some form of assistance. “Right now, 33 of them are in hotels across our county,” Warden Debbie Robinson noted at Renfrew County council last Wednesday. “These aren’t numbers. These are people. “Are these invisible victims of the pandemic we haven’t identified yet or are we seeing the growth in a housing crisis?” she questioned. Her comments came following a presentation on a Seniors Housing Strategy presented by Ken Foulds and Scott Robertson of Re/fact Consulting. They had been hired by the county last year to do a study. “The real intent was to address senior housing and needs,” Mr. Foulds said. The consultants were looking at solutions including “outside brick-and-mortar opportunities” in the report, he said. The concern about housing for seniors is great in the county. He pointed out 20 per cent of the population is seniors. “Over the next 20 years that segment will grow to 30 per cent,” he added. All seniors are not alike and this was reflected in the presentation. He said while some are independent, others are moderately independent and the final group is heavily reliant on assistance. While the independent senior needs community supports, later it becomes more community care and finally long-term care. Mr. Roberts said the consultants did a questionnaire, had focus groups and a community round table among other initiatives to come to their findings. He said there were several findings including the fact seniors have a desire to maintain independence. “There is a lack of appropriate housing,” he added, as well as pointing out there is a demand for both housing and long-term care needs. Another area of concern is expanding services to rural areas and affordability for seniors is an issue. Five strategy directions were presented. The first was expanding suitable housing options. “Pursue greater housing flexibility with local municipalities in the Official Plan,” Mr. Foulds said. Zoning and approval practices can help in this, he said. As well, the county has a 10-year housing and homelessness plan and this can be built upon. The second strategy was improving support to enable seniors to age in place appropriately. “Maximize programs that exist out there,” he said. Expanding paramedicine initiatives would be a positive move. “One third of those on the wait list for long-term care are not considered in the severe category and could be helped to age in place,” he said. The third strategy was to increase the supply of higher-level care facilities. He said expanding care campus type options and creating slack for respite care are options as well. The fourth strategy was creating the right environment to identify and facilitate housing options. “The county can be a catalyst for development,” he said. “Continue to engage the private sector to get them involved.” The final strategy was improving seniors’ access to care and support. Mr. Foulds said having a community round table and facilitating information sharing were good steps. County councillors received the complete report on the strategy. “It has been very proactive for the county to take a leadership role in developing this strategy,” he said. “It is very forward thinking.” Warden Robinson said dealing with seniors housing it will be important to work with other groups in the county. “Facilitating the implementation involving many other groups will be essential for us,” she said. “We have this magnificent report and now we need to share it.” The reality of the aging population was not lost on her or the members of county council, she said. “There are more than 30 per cent seniors staring at you right now,” she said. It will also be important to look at the diverse needs of seniors, including the aging-at-home strategy. “The folks on the wait list that could stay at home, age at home with the right supports,” she said. Admaston/Bromley Mayor Michael Donohue said it is good to look at different ways of addressing the housing needs for seniors. “Bricks and mortar long-term care is not going to be a viable way of meeting the needs of this particular demographic,” he said. “New beds won’t meet the need.” Having this report shows the county what is possible, he added. Renfrew Reeve Peter Emon asked what the consequence would be of doing nothing about the senior housing crunch. Mr. Foulds said one result was out migration. “When people can’t get the housing and supports they need, they leave,” he said. Warden Robinson said the status quo is not an option. “Doing nothing we are just welcoming a crisis to happen,” she said. The issue of homelessness in the county has made her realize the precarious situation many people live in, she added. Knowing there are 33 people being housed in hotels across the county because they are homeless is a reminder of the crisis. “That also includes people over 65,” she pointed out. North Algona Wilberforce Mayor James Brose asked what can be done in planning policy to assist in the seniors housing crunch. “Are there specific planning policies which will encourage development to allow for more senior housing?” he asked. Mr. Foulds said ideas like allowing granny suites or second suites is a start. “Allowing an Abbey Field home – a congregate living arrangement,” he said, adding smaller lot single homes and more town houses are other ideas. As part of the Community Services report, Warden Robinson later pointed out a full report will be coming to the county about the homeless issue and showing who the people are who are homeless. “We need to have a really close look at what is happening in our communities as far as housing is concerned,” she said. “I can’t imagine where we can find homes for these folks,” she added. The report also showed there are 129 senior applicants looking for county housing, 417 adults and 418 individuals who are part of a family unit. Most seniors and adults are looking for a one-bedroom unit. Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
This time last year, Yukon MLAs, like the rest of us, were just starting to figure out that 2020 was going to be an unusual year. The spring legislative sitting, which usually runs until late April, was shut down after just two weeks over concerns about COVID-19. The Liberals made deals with the opposition parties to ram through the budget in record time, in part at the urging of Chief Medical Officer of Health Brendan Hanley. That budget, which showed a modest $4.1-million surplus, was blown apart by the pandemic. By the time the fall economic update rolled around, Yukon was showing a $31.6-million deficit, thanks to increased public health spending and a drop in tax revenues caused by the economic slowdown. Even though Yukon has avoided the worst of the lockdowns, infections and mass death experienced elsewhere, economic damage from the pandemic is still being felt. The tourism industry is in tatters and mineral exploration has taken a major hit. That's why Thursday's budget figures to be interesting. Finance officials have said that money flowing from the federal government will offset some of the fiscal damage from COVID-19, but we won't know exactly how much until the budget is tabled Thursday afternoon. Another question is whether the budget will attempt to slow spending to put the territory back into surplus, or to keep spending. There are genuine public policy reasons to punt on balancing the budget this year: helping people and businesses hit hard by the pandemic, or building infrastructure that will help fuel future growth. And there's the political reality: government spending tends to be politically popular and initiating an austerity drive right before an election is probably bad strategy. An election, but when? This is the other big question: exactly how close are we to a territorial election? A vote has to take place by mid-November. But do the Liberals aim for late spring, shortly after widespread vaccination has taken place? Or do they wait until fall, betting that the pandemic settles down even further? The experience of the provinces doesn't exactly offer much clarity. British Columbia's election went off fine, but Newfoundland and Labrador's has been thoroughly derailed thanks to a major outbreak of variant COVID-19 there. Elections Yukon has said it will be ready for an election by mid-March and has introduced changes to make it easier to vote without going to a polling station. Premier Sandy Silver has repeatedly declined to offer any hints. Silver flatly refused to even engage with the question Wednesday when asked by reporters. Meanwhile, all three parties have been busy nominating candidates, pestering their supporters for donations and jockeying for position ahead of the election call. Signs point to a close race Last week the Whitehorse Star reported that a poll of 600 Yukon residents conducted by Leger found the three main parties effectively tied, with the NDP at 33 per cent, the Yukon Party at 32 and Liberals at 31. The Star reported the poll was conducted by one of the parties, but didn't say which one, suggesting a strategic leak. The NDP have flatly denied it was them and the Liberals have ties to a different polling firm. The Yukon Party circulated a fundraising email crowing loudly about the poll's findings and, for the first time, taking election-style shots at the NDP (the two opposition parties tend to work together fairly cordially in the Legislative Assembly). So make of that what you will. Finally, there's currently nothing on the government's legislative agenda, apart from the budget. Recently, many bills have taken more than one sitting to pass and often there will be government legislation awaiting MLAs when the assembly resumes. But the Liberals passed everything that was on their to-do list by the end of the lengthy fall sitting, 10 non-budget bills in all. There's nothing stopping the government from introducing more this spring. But, technically at least, there's also nothing stopping Silver from asking Commissioner Angélique Bernard to dissolve the legislature at any time, triggering an election. The first couple of weeks of the spring sitting should give us a better idea of the government's plans. Until then, the outlook remains clear as the mud of a Yukon spring.
When the Hilton Garden Inn Fredericton was opened in 2018, the expectation was its rooms would be packed every spring and summer with thousands of convention attendees from across the country. But, for the second year in a row, it looks like the COVID-19 pandemic has put a stop to that. With restrictions on travel and gatherings continuing for the foreseeable future, that's put a chill on large national and regional conventions, and that's a cause for concern to Celine Bertin, general manager at the Hilton Garden Inn. "April, May, June, are big convention months, however, August is probably one of the biggest convention months, along with September, October and very much November as well. "So with that said, we're a convention hotel and a corporate hotel... so, yeah, [there being no conventions] does affect us in a big way." Bertin said the hotel's plan hinged so much on catering to convention attendees, that its was located next door and attached to the Fredericton Convention Centre. "If there wasn't a convention centre, frankly, we wouldn't be downtown." Trevor Morgan, general manager of the Crowne Plaza in Fredericton.(Submitted by Joanne Barlow) The Crowne Plaza is directly across the street from the centre, and typically hosts convention attendees in its rooms and at its pub and restaurant. That won't be happening this year, and that worries Trevor Morgan, its general manager. "The bottom line is we won't be able to replace that revenue, so we do anticipate running significantly lower revenue and occupancy through that period because of the lack of that business," Morgan said. More help needed for businesses The likely loss of the 2021 convention season is just the latest blow to an industry already particularly hard hit by the pandemic, said Carol Alderdice, president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick. Carol Alderdice, president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick.(Submitted by Carol Alderdice) "It makes such a big difference to hotels and restaurants when conventions are in town. It keeps them busy and it keeps them alive, and that's just not been happening. "That's why we've had to count on federal support to keep them going." Alderdice said that aid has been well used, but more is needed. She said the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, which provides up to 75 per cent of employee wages for eligible employers, should be extended to the fall, and raised to cover 85 per cent. She also wants to see an extension to the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, which helps tenants pay the rent if their business or non-profit has lost revenue due to the pandemic. In a media briefing Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said those two programs, which were originally set to end next week, will be extended to June. CBC News did not receive a response from the Prime Minister's Office about whether it would also increase the pay-outs offered under those programs. Hopeful for recovery The Fredericton Convention Centre accommodated 34,000 convention attendees and generated an estimated $12.9 million for the local economy in 2019. Instead of convention-goers, for 2021 the convention centre will be hosting lawyers, plaintiffs and defendants, as the Department of Justice has agreed to rent the space to act as the Fredericton Court of Queen's Bench to allow enough space for physical distancing. The Fredericton Convention Centre on Queen Street.(Daniel McHardie/CBC) While the agreement has softened the blow for the convention centre, Cathy Pugh, its general manager, said the loss of the season is hard on the industry. "We were the first hit, the hardest hit, and it will take us the longest to recover," Pugh said. "But we are hopeful that we will start to recover. It will take a couple of years. We'll start seeing groups coming back in 2022 and then hopefully in 2023 it will continue on the upswing, and we're hopeful that we will return in 2024 to pre-pandemic numbers or thereabouts." Jeremy Trevors, a spokesperson for the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture, said convention activities related to catering and meeting facilities typically account for about $30 million in revenue generated in New Brunswick annually, while another $80 million is earned in room bookings related to conventions. Trevors said the department hopes bookings for small meetings will re-emerge in the late spring, but that remains contingent on COVID-19 public health protocols, which will dictate what can and can't be done. "We look forward to working with the New Brunswick Hotel Association and destination marketing organizations to plan recovery for this area of business," he said.
The man they call Father T now has the appropriate headwear to be Chaplain Father T. Father Thomas Dorward was given the white helmet last week that signifies him as the Fire Rescue Chaplain of the Rideau Lakes Fire Department. "It's wonderful to be recognized by your peers and by the township and village," said Dorward. Fire Chief Scott Granahan considered it to be "absolutely an honour" to entrust the helmet to Dorward. "We sometimes look past the roles that are often supportive," said Granahan. "But I don't forget, nor does our Deputy (Chief) forget, that we have that ability to pick up the phone and have somebody that can not just help, but also bring us back to where we need to be. "He's been just an absolutely amazing resource, not just for our members in the community, but also for our members' families." Dorward, who began serving with the fire department shortly after moving to Westport in 2002 following retirement, made the decision last year to step back from being a full-time responding volunteer firefighter. "As they say, 'time marches on,'" said Dorward. "It seemed the right time to step down from the rigours of firefighting." "We really wanted to keep him in our family, so that’s where this little bit of a change to him becoming a face within our command team came from," said Granahan, who is chief of the just over 80 other members of the fire department. There are many roles of a Chaplain within a fire department. Some include offering support and assistance at emergency incidents, conducting or assisting with fire department funerals or memorial services and acting as a confidential listening ear to personnel and family members. Granahan said the role is vital, as one call cannot drag into the next. "He offers such a level place to focus to get our members and our department as a whole back to where they need to be," Granahan said. Before his run with the township's fire department, Dorward's previous work experience included serving in the Canadian Forces medical services, an emergency EMS responder, and a full-time Toronto International Airport Emergency Services and volunteer firefighter. The last job he held before retirement was as security director for the Toronto District School Board. "It seemed a natural fit to be able to utilize the skills I had learned to serve our new home community," said Dorward on why he joined the volunteer fire department after he and his wife Brenda moved to Westport. When Dorward moved to Westport, he was a Religious Brother in the Order of Saint Andrew. Upon joining the fire department, he assumed the dual role of firefighter-chaplain. Soon after completing his studies, Dorward was ordained as a priest. Something that both Dorward and Granahan stressed was that Dorward's role as fire chaplain is not limited to Rideau Lakes. "With our mutual aid services and partners… this isn't a service that is limited to our own membership. It is something that is absolutely available to everybody in the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, Lanark and beyond," said Granahan. "There's been issues where a chaplaincy was required in other departments," said Dorward. "It's like any other fire department resource. If another department requires it, all they have to do is ask. "We're there for everybody." Marshall Healey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
A full zoning bylaw change to accommodate and encourage more affordable housing in town may not be the quickest road to the goal. Midland's affordable housing task force arrived at this conclusion at its recent meeting. The group was looking at the overall official plan and zoning bylaw review process in hopes it would provide opportunities to attract more developers by easing regulations and creating a more inviting environment. "The reality is a lot of our housing development is going to come from other sources than ourselves," said Gord McKay, chair of the committee. "We have to prepare the landscape, the regulation and planning mechanisms, so they can reasonably go forward with affordable housing." The document prepared by the town's former planner identifies some areas where changes could be made, including the current planning and zoning of the Town of Midland. But it's not easy to go through a zoning bylaw review, acknowledged McKay, who asked Mayor Stewart Strathearn where the town was in the process. "We're currently seriously constrained in the planning area, and apparently, it's going to be exacerbated shortly," said Strathearn. "Friday, when we have the HR committee review as to what the immediate future looks like in terms of resources we can access to move things that need immediate attention." The retention of the consultant to do the review is going to be contingent upon putting a planning resource in plan to manage it," he added. In addition, Strathearn said, the county is moving into its municipal comprehensive review. "There's a lot happening right now," he said, adding he agreed with committee member Ted Phelps, who had suggested the committee would be better off with a site-specific zoning, rather than relying on a comprehensive zoning review. "We've identified two properties which will require some sort of zoning change," said Strathearn. "We should focus on those and we can move that ball down the court and in the workshops and other conversations put some emphasis on particular things. We can expand the conversation once we've gotten council's buy-in on some of the other stuff." McKay said a couple ideas that could be included in the new zoning bylaw, whenever that comes forward, may help promote more affordable housing in the area. "The one that's always intrigued me the most is shared accommodation housing," he said. "While we're permitted, we don't encourage it in any fashion. If any group in the public is going to pick up and do something in the affordable housing area, that's probably the mechanism they will employ. "Secondary units is another one that's reasonably well-established," added McKay. Strathearn had a word of caution around it all. "We're realizing that there are inconsistencies at the provincial level with respect to employment lands, rural designation and natural heritage," he said. "There are fundamental conflicts between the three that are really going to contain primary settlement areas to grow and retain their character. We're examining that through the municipal comprehensive review at county." The committee will also be launching a communications campaign to reach out to the community to invite feedback around housing and what the town can do to improve affordable housing in the area. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is again being accused of discrimination in how it treats migrant farm workers. Haldimand-Norfolk is already infamous in farming circles as the only jurisdiction to put a cap on how many offshore workers can quarantine together in a bunkhouse, a controversial policy upheld after a lengthy court battle last year. Now medical officer of health Dr. Shanker Nesathurai has decreed that newly arrived farm workers self-isolating in hotels cannot leave their rooms. While federal rules allow “limited and monitored outdoor time” for returning Canadian travellers staying at isolation hotels, the latest directive from the health unit confines migrant workers to their rooms for their entire 14-day quarantine. “I think any time people are treated differently than a Canadian, that’s discrimination,” said Leanne Arnal, a farm worker advocate and member of the Norfolk Seasonal Agricultural Workers Community Committee. “If we were to lock a dog in a room for 14 days — I don’t care how nice the room is — you’re going to have the police there. You’re going to have a community of upset people. So why are we keeping the farm workers in there for 14 days? Even criminals can go outside and get a fresh air break.” Nesathurai defended the new restriction as necessary to contain the more contagious variants of COVID-19. “This past summer, an outbreak among Haldimand-Norfolk’s migrant worker community led to hundreds of infected individuals, multiple hospitalizations, and a death. The Haldimand-Norfolk experience shows that some workers arrive in Canada carrying COVID-19, and this can have deadly consequences,” he said. “The risk is not theoretical. We’re trying to keep as many people safe as possible, given the resources that we have.” Nesathurai said the policy also protects other hotel guests and staff, and farm workers can take smoke breaks or get fresh air on their balcony, “if available.” Not every room has a balcony, Arnal noted, adding that all workers are tested for COVID-19 before leaving their home countries. Norfolk County Mayor Kristal Chopp said she was “perplexed” by the new rule. “As chair of the board of health, I have consistently supported Dr. Nesathurai, even when there were rules I didn’t agree with. He’s a medical professional and I am not,” Chopp said. “However, when I see rules that now are not treating the migrant workers the same as Canadians, I do start to question that, when Canadians themselves are entitled to be able to get some fresh air while they’re in quarantine.” Kevin Daniel from Trinidad and Tobago, who works at a farm in Simcoe, said he “strongly believes” the new rule discriminates against migrant workers, who cannot protest the conditions set out by the health unit due to their precarious employment status. “What they tell us to do, we have to comply with it,” he said. Daniel will be spared another quarantine because he remained in Simcoe over the winter after being unable to fly home thanks to border restrictions. But he said he is still feeling the debilitating mental effects of spending two weeks in a hotel room after a COVID-19 outbreak at his farm last November. “It was very terrible, the experience I had being locked up those 14 days,” said Daniel, who said he continues to suffer from insomnia. “I experienced it in the quarantine, and when I came out, I would be up until 3, 4 o’clock in the morning. It’s a consistent problem that I have,” he said. Daniel said allowing workers daily outdoor exercise would not alleviate the anxiety of quarantine, but it would help. Arnal helped Daniel’s employer manage that quarantine. She proposed having workers use a dedicated stairwell to safely spend time outdoors in a secluded yard. “(Nesathurai) said ‘absolutely not,’ with no reason for it,” Arnal said. “Using the variants as an excuse right now — what was his excuse in November, when there were no variants?” Nesathurai contends the health unit does not have enough staff to monitor workers’ outdoor breaks, but Chopp said the farmers themselves would pay for supervision. According to Nesathurai, the health unit has asked Ottawa “numerous times” to take over the migrant worker self-isolation program, most recently in a March 1 letter in which he warned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that federal inaction would “likely contribute to more workers becoming infected.” Arnal sees this rule as the latest in a string of questionable health unit decisions — such as issuing ID cards she considered “racial profiling” — that demonize farm workers, who she said spend most of the year in Canada and make an incalculable contribution to the national food supply and local economy. “They are not a risk, they are at risk, just like the rest of us,” she said. J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
WASHINGTON — Cheered on by President Joe Biden, House Democrats are hustling to pass the most ambitious effort in decades to overhaul policing nationwide, confident they can avoid clashing with moderates in their own party who are wary of reigniting a debate they say hurt them during last fall's election. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act was set for a House vote late Wednesday. The sweeping legislation, which was approved last summer but stalled in the Senate, was named in honour of Floyd, whose killing by police in Minnesota last Memorial Day sparked protests nationwide. The bill would ban chokeholds and “qualified immunity” for law enforcement and create national standards for policing in a bid to bolster accountability. Democrats say they are determined to pass the bill a second time, to combat police brutality and institutional racism after the deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans following interactions with law enforcement — images of which were sometimes jarringly captured on video. Those killings drew a national and international outcry. But the debate over legislation has turned into a political liability for Democrats as Republicans seized on calls by some activists and progressives to “defund the police” to argue that Democrats were intent on slashing police force budgets. This bill doesn't do that. Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said it was a reason the party, after talking confidently of growing its majority in November, instead saw it shrink to just 10 seats, 221-211. “We played too much defence on ‘defund the police,’” Perez said. Moderate Democrats said the charge helped to drive Democratic defeats in swing districts around the country. “No one ran on ‘defund the police,’ but all you have to do is make that a political weapon,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar, a moderate Texas Democrat who has pushed for more police funding in places like his city of Laredo, where law enforcement presence is especially concentrated given the close proximity to the Mexican border. While Democrats used their then-larger majority to pass the police reform measure in the House last summer, it stalled in the then-Republican-controlled Senate, where GOP senators pushed an alternate plan that Democrats blocked from consideration, calling it inadequate. Democrats now control both chambers of Congress, but it seems unlikely the bill could pass the Senate without substantial changes to win GOP support. The bill had been set for a vote Thursday, but House leaders abruptly changed the schedule after U.S. Capitol Police warned of threats of violence by a militia group seeking to storm the Capitol two months after the Jan. 6 siege. Democratic control in the House is now so narrow that the loss of even a handful of moderate votes can sink legislation. But senior Democratic congressional aides said Wednesday they were confident the policing bill would clear the House and were eager to get it to the Senate, where negotiations will take longer. Despite the political attacks by Republicans, even the House's more centrist lawmakers, some representing more conservative districts, appear ready to back the bill. Aides pointed to the moderate New Democrat Coalition saying this week that its members would support it. “Black Americans have endured generations of systemic racism and discrimination for too long, and this has been painfully evident in their treatment by law enforcement," said Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash, who chairs the coalition. That endorsement came despite the bill's prohibitions on so-called qualified immunity, which shields law enforcement from certain lawsuits and is one of the main provisions that will likely need to be negotiated in any compromise with the Senate. Police unions and other law enforcement groups have argued that, without such legal protections, fears of lawsuits will stop people from becoming police officers — even though the measure permits such suits only against law enforcement agencies, rather than all public employees. California Rep. Karen Bass, who authored the bill, understands the challenge some House members face in supporting it., “My colleagues, several of them, I do not make light of the difficulty they had getting reelected because of the lie around defunding the police,” Bass said. She called provisions limiting qualified immunity and easing standards for prosecution “the only measures that hold police accountable — that will actually decrease the number of times we have to see people killed on videotape.” Bass said she was not planning to make concessions before the bill clears the House. Changes would only serve to weaken it while failing to shield Democrats from the false “defund the police” narrative surrounding it, she said. “Even if they were to vote against the bill, even if they were to have a press conference denouncing the bill, they are still going to be hit with the same lie,” Bass said of Democrats. She also acknowledged the challenges Democrats faced last November — and may likely see again — when former President Donald Trump's reelection campaign and other leading Republicans crowded the airwaves with images of cities around the country burning. But Bass said those attacks, like much of the opposition to the bill, are built on racism, promoting fears about how, “The scary Black people are going to attack you if you try to rein in the police.” “That's as old as apple pie in our history,” she said. “So do you not act because of that?” Still, she conceded that changes are likely to come if the measure is to win the minimum 60 votes it will need to advance in the Senate, which is now split 50-50s. Bass said she'd been in contact with South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, the only Black Republican in the chamber, and was confident he would help deliver some GOP support. Scott said this week that the legislation's sticking points were qualified immunity and prosecutorial standards and that in both areas, “We have to protect individual officers.” “That's a red line for me,” Scott said, adding “hopefully we'll come up with something that actually works.” That could prove a tall order, despite the White House's vocal support for police reform. Biden has promised to combat systemic racism and signed executive orders he says will begin doing that, though advocates are expecting the new administration to go further. Biden has tweeted that he hopes "to be able to sign into law a landmark police reform bill.” Will Weissert And Padmananda Rama, The Associated Press
At the Feb. 22 Limerick Township council meeting, council discussed the impending update of the township website to make it more accessible. Victoria Tisdale, the clerk and treasurer, informed council that they had gotten two quotes for the work; one from Upnorthwebs and another from Floating Point. At Tisdale’s recommendation, council decided to go with the less expensive quote from Upnorthwebs in the amount of $6,000. The township put out a tender and received two quotes to update and make their website more accessible. Upnorthwebs put in a bid for $6,000, while Floating Point put in a bid for $8,200. This cost includes the initial work to update the site and for one year of service and maintenance. Upnorthwebs is a creative studio owned and operated by Katherine Houlding north of Belleville. They have worked with a variety of municipalities over the past 15 years on their websites and their digital presence, including Faraday Township, Wollaston Township and the Tudor and Cashel Township. Floating Point is a creative agency with 25 years experience designing websites and internet presences for a variety of clients including Hastings Highlands, Mohawk College and the Insurance Brokers Association of Canada. Tisdale recommended to council that they go with Upnorthwebs, since the quote was less expensive, and because they are already working on the township’s website providing service and maintenance. “They service all the surrounding community. I’ve spoken with her [Houlding] and she’s got a plan. If council approves and decides to go ahead with that plan, we can have it implemented by next month,” she says. Council subsequently voted to accept Tisdale’s recommendation for Upnorthwebs to continue working on their website. Houlding confirmed that she had received confirmation of the acceptance of her bid, and that Upnorthwebs has been designing and maintaining the Limerick Township website since 2002. “It has gone through many enhancements over the years,” she says. “I look forward to continuing our relationship with Limerick Township and providing them with quality website design services. Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times
EDMONTON — Five Black Muslim women, all Somali-Canadians wearing hijabs, have been attacked or threatened in Edmonton in the last 10 weeks. The city's Al-Rashid Mosque began offering Muslim women self-defence lessons following the attacks. The classes are full. Trent Daley is a member of Edmonton's Anti-Racism Advisory Committee. He says someone approaches him or his network on a weekly basis about an assault. Most victims are Black and Muslim women. "There's been a notable marked increase (in assaults) following the pandemic. It's so pervasive right now," Daley says. "It's full of racial epithets, full of disgusting language targeting them based off the scarf that they wear and the identity they presumed that this person has. It's dehumanizing." Calgary police say they received 80 hate crime complaints between January and November 2020. Cheryl Voordenhout with the Edmonton Police Service says it received 60 reports of hate crimes last year. So far in 2021, three of seven hate-crime related investigations have involved Somali-Muslim women. On Dec. 8, a mother and daughter were violently attacked in the Southgate mall parking lot. A week later, near the same mall, another woman was subject to racial slurs as someone tried to hit her head with a shopping bag. In February, a man made racial comments and became aggressive toward a woman at the University of Alberta transit centre. The same day, a man came up behind a woman walking in a popular neighbourhood, pushed her to the ground and made threats to kill her and tear off her burqa. The latest attack happened Feb. 17. The National Council of Canadian Muslims said a man approached a Black Muslim woman wearing a hijab at the Century Park transit station, swore at her and threatened to kill her. Political leaders, including Premier Jason Kenney, have spoken out against the attacks. But the CEO of the national Muslims council says condemnation is not enough and government leaders at the local and provincial level need to take action. "Anti-Black racism is a real problem in Alberta," says Mustafa Farooq. "Black-Muslim women tend to face greater challenges than almost anyone else, because racism and gendered Islamophobia are real problems. "We can look, for example, at street harassment bylaws. We can look at ways in which anti-racism initiatives are being funded. We can look at hate crime units and their advocacy in dealing with these challenges." "So much can be done immediately, but it's not happening." Daley added that recent rallies and marches in Edmonton and Calgary in opposition to COVID-19 measures are examples of how the pandemic has exacerbated racism in Alberta. Some participants were seen carrying tiki torches, which many say are a symbol used by white supremacists. Edmonton police Chief Dale McFee said the police service is doubling down in its effort to work with the Somali community to address racially motivated assaults. "We've got to listen to what they need and then we've got to figure out how we can ... actually get some of the changes that they need," he said at a news conference Tuesday. McFee also alluded to the suspects in the assaults possibly having mental-health issues. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021 ___ This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This story has been edited. An interview subject was removed from the original version because of concerns raised about her safety.
Lethbridge police have laid a charge of first-degree murder in connection with a 2020 hit-and-run collision that killed the accused woman's ex-spouse. Melissa Whitegrass, 37, of Lethbridge was arrested on March 2 and charged with first-degree murder, dangerous driving causing death and assault with a weapon. According to a release, police responded to a report of a collision between a vehicle and a pedestrian in an alley near 9th Avenue and 13th Street South at approximately 4:40 p.m. on June 1, 2020. Before police arrived, the alleged offending vehicle — a 2005 yellow Dodge Ram — drove away from the scene. Austin Forsyth, 30, was found at the scene and taken to Chinook Regional Hospital, where he later died of his injuries. Whitegrass is now in custody and a court appearance is scheduled for March 9. According to police, Whitegrass and Forsyth were involved in a common-law relationship until 2017. Police said though the incident is being treated as an instance of domestic violence, there were no other incidents reported to the police service prior to the incident in 2020.
Pembroke -- Three new cases of COVID-19 in Renfrew County and district were confirmed on Tuesday, bringing the total of confirmed cases since the pandemic began to 349. The Renfrew County District Health Unit (RCDHU) reported on Monday two individuals were in hospital in intensive care and another individual was in hospital. At that point 29 people were in isolation with confirmed cases of the virus. Last week Dr. Robert Cushman, acting medical officer of health for the RCDHU, issued a stern warning to county residents following a large number of cases identified in the Arnprior and McNab-Braeside area after a gathering in the community which saw a large number of people infected and several businesses affected. “RCD has been classified as a Green Zone for weeks now, which will likely change if cases continue to rise,” he warned. “Businesses are finally getting the chance to open again, to employ their workers, and to serve their customers delayed needs. The last thing we want to do is to jeopardize our status and clamp down yet again on the economy, or possibly implement more stringent rules in the Arnprior area.” Last Friday, the RCDHU confirmed nineindividuals that reside in the Town of Arnprior and five that reside in the Township of McNab-Braeside tested positive for COVID-19 in a period of a week. The health unit noted there were 37 high-risk contacts and six local businesses affected. According to the health unit, many of these cases attended the same social gathering, and several others are considered close contacts of those that attended the gathering. RCDHU has directed all persons and business impacted to self-monitor and/or self-isolate until exposure and risks have been assessed by the contact tracing team at RCDHU. “This will continue to be followed by further testing and investigation, which could lead to more cases over the coming days,” Dr. Cushman said. The health unit was supported by the mayors of the affected communities in asking for continued vigilance and adherence of COVID protocols among area residents. “I really encourage the residents of Arnprior to take this virus seriously and not let your guard down,” Arnprior Mayor Walter Stack said. His comments were echoed by Mayor Tom Peckett of McNab/Braeside. “With the new variants of concern spreading in other regions across Ontario, we want to ensure that we are taking all necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep our community, family and friends safe,” he said. The county currently has one long-term care home in outbreak. Miramichi Lodge in Pembroke has seen three confirmed cases of the virus. The health unit has completed 65,633 tests since the pandemic began and although almost 350 cases have been identified so far there have been zero of the more contagious variants identified in the county and district. COVID testing continues in the county with tests on Thursday in Laurentian Valley, Cobden and Deep River. Friday tests are being done in Arnprior, Horton and Barry’s Bay. Testing is done by appointment and anyone needing a test must call RCVTAC at 1-844-727-6404 to schedule a testing time. Those requiring a test are reminded to wear a face mask or covering, arrive at their scheduled time and bring their health card and proof of address. Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
Although Alek Minassian was found guilty of all counts in the Yonge Street van attack, the judge has set a Canadian precedent by considering autism a “mental disorder” under the Criminal Code. Kamil Karamali reports.
P.E.I.'s new Minister of Social Development and Housing Brad Trivers received a dressing down in the provincial legislature Wednesday, apologizing for remarks he made the day before where he dismissed the financial toll the pandemic has taken on young Islanders, referring to accounts of "precarious employment" among young people as "employment opportunities." Those comments came during debate on a motion introduced by the Green Party to recognize the contributions of Island youth in the province's fight against COVID-19, and to acknowledge those same youth have borne much of the "economic risks and harms related to COVID-19, as a result of inadequate wages, inconsistent paid sick leave, precarious employment and challenges obtaining gainful employment." "I have to say that, I think what we need from our elected officials is we need people who are going to support the youth, and not encourage them to be victims," Trivers said Tuesday in response to the motion. "On Prince Edward Island, I personally don't see a lot of precarious employment out there, I see a lot of employment opportunities." Trivers went on to describe growing up on a farm, working for no wages. "I wasn't making money doing that, but that was very gainful employment," he said. "Those were the type of experiences that made me the person I am today, and they made me appreciate every dollar I've earned." On Wednesday Trivers offered a short apology, saying the comments he made were "misinformed." But the Official Opposition was not satisfied with that apology. "Yesterday, the Minister of Social Development and Housing told us that he doesn't understand what precarious unemployment is and that he doesn't believe it exists in PEI," said Hannah Bell, the opposition social development critic during question period. MLA Hannah Bell, official opposition critic for social development and housing, says Islanders need to know that all cabinet ministers support the message of equality and inclusion. (Laura Meader/CBC) "He described low-wage precarious work, even unpaid work, as an opportunity for character building. He also said that we should stop pointing out the problems with precarious or low paying work, lest we make our youth victims." Bell had previously delivered a written statement to the house, describing constituents she said were struggling to work multiple low-paid jobs, raise children, pay tuition fees and make the rent. "This is what precarious employment looks like. It is unstable, poorly paid, unreliable, with few if any worker rights," said Bell. "While this may not be the experience of members of this house, it is the experience of thousands of Islanders." Asked by Opposition leader Peter Bevan-Baker whether he supported his minister's statements, Premier Dennis King said, "I don't support that statement at all. I think we're here to help Islanders, that's our job, and if we're not here to help Islanders, none of us should be in here." Minister should show 'empathy' "The Department of Social Development and Housing is a place where many marginalized Islanders seek support," said Bevan-Baker. "Do you think it's important for the cabinet minister in that portfolio to have a deep understanding of, and an empathy for the people that their department serves?" he asked the premier. The Greens also brought up previous comments Trivers has made on housing. At a committee meeting in January, before Trivers was housing minister, he said Islanders receiving rental support from the province living in substandard housing "have the freedom to choose to make their own decision about whether they stay there or not." At a meeting in October he calculated that two people earning minimum wage could buy a home, accessing a provincial funding program to make the down payment, and afford mortgage payments of $1,200 per month. "It may not be right in Charlottetown, maybe people will have to travel," he said. In question period Wednesday, Bell said anyone who was "precariously employed … can't actually qualify for a traditional mortgage." Minister hasn't shared 'life experiences' "These are very serious issues," Trivers said in the legislature Wednesday. "We're all learning, we're all growing and the comments I made yesterday, when I say they were uninformed, it's simply because I haven't shared the life experiences of people who were impacted in that way in many cases and I will freely admit that." At one point during the session Trivers committed to creating a rental registry to track rental rates on P.E.I., something the Opposition has been asking for. After question period, Bell said the point of questioning Trivers about his comments was to get him to acknowledge there are problems with issues like wages, employment and sick leave benefits. "Premier King needs to have his cabinet ministers on board" with the vision of equality and economic security delivered in last week's throne speech, Bell said. "Trivers' comments show a pretty huge gap. It makes it hard for Islanders to know what to believe, and who to trust."
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