Global News Queen’s Park bureau chief Travis Dhanraj breaks down the latest rules announced by the Ontario government amidst rising COVID-19 cases.
Global News Queen’s Park bureau chief Travis Dhanraj breaks down the latest rules announced by the Ontario government amidst rising COVID-19 cases.
Several new homeowners in Campbell River, B.C., got a shock earlier this week when the city put a freeze on issuing new occupancy permits, after staff discovered the municipal sewage system in the Maryland neighborhood was already at capacity. The city said this affects 20 properties in various states of construction in the area — including one belonging to Aleda and Chris Staffanson, who said they were planning to move into their new home this coming weekend. Instead, they were told on Tuesday that they would not be given an occupancy permit, leaving the couple with nowhere to stay but the camper van in their backyard. Chris Staffanson said they bought a lot in the neighbourhood last year and had spent upwards of three-quarters of a million dollars on the property, including building their dream home. "It's utter incompetence," he said. "Surely to god the engineers could figure out how much sewage comes out of one house and how many houses are here and would have known this before they gave a building permit out. An eight-year-old kid could do that math." Unable to move into their home, the Staffansons will be living in a camper in their backyard.(Aleda Staffanson) City officials said it's not clear how the oversight happened. Deputy city manager Ron Neufeld said the municipality regularly upgrades their infrastructure, but there is only so much work they can do every year. "This area, which is at the southern extreme of our community, services one neighbourhood and so it was placed as a lower priority," he said. 'A ton of lost opportunity' The uncertainty over when homeowners can move in is also causing problems for those working on the properties, even though the city has given the green light for construction to continue as it tries to address the sewer issue. "If we have a lot that isn't already sold, who is going to buy it if we can't promise them occupancy?" said Bruce Calendar, who runs Big Island Construction and is working on several projects in the area. They include a planned 19-lot development whose future is now unclear, Calendar said. "There is a ton of lost opportunity up here. There is a 19-lot strata that has stopped development now," he said. The city is now working with an engineering firm to come up with possible solutions. But Neufeld said they won't know until next week what their options are, or a potential timeline for people like the Staffansons to move into their homes.
A former London, Ont., high school student has filed a $200,000 civil suit against her ex-teacher and the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB), alleging he caused her psychological and emotional harm after he secretly filmed her chest at school without her knowledge or consent. Madison Woodburn was one of 27 teenagers who were filmed by Ryan Jarvis while he taught English at H.B. Beal Secondary School between 2010 and 2011. She was 14 and in Grade 9 when he used a camera hidden inside a pen to film parts of her body. "The videos focused on the plaintiff's upper body, including but not limited to her breasts," says the statement of claim filed Tuesday in a London court. "The plaintiff had no knowledge she was being videotaped, nor did she consent to the recordings being taken." The lawsuit has yet to be tested in court. 'Unusual interest' in female students The civil suit is the latest chapter in a precedent-setting Canadian legal case that saw Jarvis, whose teaching certification was revoked, become the first person in Canada to serve jail time on a voyeurism conviction. He was sentenced in August 2019 to six months in jail. Ryan Jarvis, shown in the 2011 H.B. Beal Secondary School yearbook during his time as a teacher, was sentenced to six months of jail time in 2019 for voyeurism.(Submitted) It took Woodburn eight years of legal battles that went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada to get justice, and now she hopes to take Jarvis to court again, along with his former employer, to hold them both to account for what she claims was a moral injury. "I think there's a lot of unfinished business," she told CBC News in a telephone interview Wednesday. "I think everyone turned a blind eye to the school board. I'm fighting for others who have been in similar situations." In doing what he did, the lawsuit claims, Jarvis abused his power and betrayed Woodburn's trust as an authority figure and the board, the lawsuit alleges, failed to protect her. It claims teachers, staff, parents, students and others all had concerns about Jarvis's behaviour when it came to young female students. Jarvis had an "unusual interest" in them, stood too close to them and spent too much time alone with them, the court filings said. He also had "difficulties with his sexuality" and faced "allegations of improper conduct in his previous posting." It's why the lawsuit claims the board knew Jarvis "had the propensity to engage in such deviant behaviours and that he was in fact engaging in such deviant behaviours." He also had little supervision, says Woodburn. She rarely did homework or tests in Jarvis's English class and he often showed films — obscure adaptations of Shakespeare that Woodburn said contained what she felt was an uncomfortable amount of nudity. "The whole class was weirded out by them," she said. Lawsuit alleges board failed in its response When school officials found out Jarvis had secretly taped his students for a sexual purpose, the lawsuit claims, they failed to offer any emotional support or professional counselling to his victims. Woodburn, shown at age 15. Soon after, she learned her English teacher had been secretly filming her.(Submitted by Madison Woodburn) Woodburn said that, after Jarvis was suspended, she came back to a school community that acted as if what the former teacher had done never happened. "It was almost like an unspoken rule. "There was no counselling. There was no assembly held. There was absolutely no talk of it." "There was nothing done for the students." she said. "I know I wasn't the only person struggling with that." "I started hating school. I could not trust a male teacher. It was so much to handle at the age of 14. "For two years after this, if a teacher clicked a pen, I would start to have an anxiety attack in class," said Woodburn. She also fought back feelings of guilt, shame, anxiety, depression, rage — all symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder that lasted years, caused by what she saw as a betrayal by her former teacher and a school board who put him in a position of trust and responsibility while simultaneously failing to recognize his pattern of aberrant behaviour. 'Post-awareness conduct' taken into account "The board should be held responsible for that," said Woodburn. "Whether it be public school or secondary school, these kids are minors and they deal with a traumatic event, it shows the school, the people they work with and trust every day, isn't there for them." The civil suit alleges the school board failed to protect Woodburn from her ex-teacher's 'deviant behaviours' and didn't give her the appropriate counselling. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC) The case hinges on a concept of institutional accountability lawyers call "loco parentis," the idea that Jarvis and the school board had a duty of care for the then 14-year-old Woodburn akin to her own parents. Because of a ruling last year against the Trillium and Lakelands District School Board, courts no longer just look at what school boards knew before an incident; they must also look at how school officials reacted thereafter. "The law was so focused on what did you know before the acts took place," said Rob Talach, the lawyer representing Woodburn. "The courts in Ontario have now gone further and said 'we are also going to judge what you did after you found out.' "I think that's the focus of the failings here is the post-awareness conduct." CBC News reached out to Jarvis through a family member who lived at the address listed in the court filings, but he did not return the request for comment. The TVDSB was also contacted. A spokesperson said the school board doesn't comment on legal matters before the courts.
A B.C. Supreme Court judge has rejected a bid by the Office of the Wet'suwet'en to kill an extension of the environmental assessment certificate that gave the green light to a northern B.C. pipeline that was at the centre of countrywide protests. In a decision released this week, Justice Barbara Norell said B.C.'s Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) did not fail to consider harm the Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline might cause because no new assessment of the project was ordered following the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The Office of the Wet'suwet'en, a non-profit society governed by several hereditary chiefs, claimed the EAO had also failed to consider numerous instances of non-compliance with conditions attached to the original certificate when Coastal GasLink was given approval in 2014 to build the 670-kilometre natural gas pipeline. Norell disagreed, finding there was "ample evidence" in inspection reports considered by the EAO to support the conclusion that "non-compliances 'have been rectified, or are in the process of being rectified', and that CGL 'was prompt in responding to remediation orders.' " What the judicial review was 'not about' A spokesperson for the Office of the Wet'suwet'en said they plan to comment on the decision later Thursday or Friday. The EAO gave a five-year extension to the certificate for the pipeline's construction in October 2019 — a decision the hereditary chiefs claimed was unreasonable. Police take a protester into custody last year during potests related to the Coastal GasLink pipeline being built from Dawson Creek to Kitimat, B.C.(Chantelle Bellrichard/CBC) They asked the judge to quash the certificate and send it back to the executive director of the EAO for further consideration. The Coastal GasLink project has drawn national attention in recent years after several Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs opposed the pipeline's route through disputed land in northwestern B.C. The hereditary chiefs have opposed Coastal GasLink's project, while five elected Wet'suwet'en band councils signed agreements with the company approving construction on their territories. In her ruling, Norell stressed that it was important to identify what the judicial review is "not about." "This review is not about what the [Office of the We'suwet'en] did or did not do in the consultation process for the extension application, nor about its objection to the project generally," the judge wrote. "The [Office of the We'suwet'en's] actions are not in issue. Nor is this review about the undeniable importance of the inquiry report in further understanding the harms and systemic causes of violence against Indigenous women and girls and other vulnerable populations." 'No findings with respect to the project' The inquiry into murdered and missing women and girls released its report in June 2019, five months before the EAO extended the certificate. The report specifically noted the "correlation between resource extraction projects and violence" against Indigenous women and girls and other vulnerable populations. The report said an increase in violence is "largely the result of the migration into camps of mostly non-Indigenous young men with high salaries and little to no stake in the host Indigenous community." Protestors stand outside the Justice Canada building in Ottawa Feb. 11, 2020. The protesters were showing solidarity with Wet'suwet'en First Nation. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press) In her ruling, Norell said the EAO had considered the report as a potential "new or changed effect" but she noted that commissions of inquiry do not impose "binding legal obligations on government, regulators or industry." "There is no dispute that the inquiry report and its calls for justice are matters of significant importance to our governments and the people of Canada. The inquiry report has contributed to the understanding of the systemic causes of this serious problem. The inquiry made recommendations to help end the violence," Norell wrote. "The findings in the inquiry report are relevant, but there are no findings with respect to the project." The judge said that an evaluation report of the project shared with the hereditary chiefs in September 2019 concluded that the concerns raised in the inquiry report had been addressed in the original application and in the development of a "socio-economic effects management plan" intended to mitigate wider problems associated with the project. Norell concluded that the Office of the Wet'suwet'en had "not established that the outcome of the decision is unreasonable or that there were fundamental flaws in the reasoning process."
A project to map a Northwest Territories highway between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk is nearly wrapped up. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada began the project through Transport Canada's drone project testing technology in the Arctic and through partnerships with the Government of the Northwest Territories and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Using the SeaHunter, an Unmanned Aircraft System [UAS], or more commonly referred to as a drone, the team took thousands of images of the highway over two weeks in late July to early August of 2019. Then, a team at the University of Alaska Fairbanks spent the next two years processing around 60,000 photographs. "We did this project as a proof of concept. We wanted to understand what the specifications were for mapping the highway and documenting best practices for the future," said Carolyn Bakelaar, geographic information systems coordinator for the Ontario and prairies region for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans [DFO] and the project lead. "Because this had not taken place before, it took a lot of visionary, leadership and commitment to carry out this mission," said Bakelaar. "There were so many people involved and so many organizations to get the bird in the air and that was really exciting to be a part of." A photo of the crew in Inuvik with the SeaHunter. They spent two weeks taking photos of the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway and portions of the Dempster Highway.(Department of Fisheries and Oceans) It started almost five years ago, in 2017, Bakelaar said, with their first steps being getting approval to fly the drone. They also visited Inuvik in advance to make sure the residents were informed of the project. "We presented it at community meetings, we even went to the high school and gave some presentations to Grade 9's and 10's [students] and really we wanted to make sure that when we got there, everyone was aware of what we were doing." Andrew Wentworth works with the university's Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration and was chief pilot and deputy program manager for the mission. He said that though they are used to working in the North and doing mapping, they have never undertaken a project this big before. "All of our previous mapping missions had been smaller stuff with a smaller unmanned aircraft," Wentworth said. "We ran into an enviable problem of how do we manage all of this data. We before processed smaller amounts of data and there was a challenge of figuring out how to eat the elephant so to speak." Crew members from the Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration examine the inside of the SeaHunter. This is during the two weeks they were taking the photos of the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway and portions of the Dempster Highway.(Department of Fisheries and Oceans) Wentworth hoped this project helped prove that using the drone to conduct surveillance in remote locations is safe and effective. "There's a lot of nothing out there and manned aircrafts, if you have a problem … you've got a rescue effort and potentially … human lives at risk," Wentworth said. "But, with an unmanned aircraft, I mean, we still want to get the equipment if it goes down out there, but there's no rush because no one's going to expire out there on the tundra." He added that by using the drone, they benefited from a fuel consumption and environmental impact perspective — they were burning less than 1 per cent of the fuel of a manned aircraft to cover the same amount of highway. Now, the team is in the final stages of preparing the data into an orthomosaic, a collection of all the photos taken into one picture, and a digital elevation model. Bakelaar is hoping to have it all made available to the public this summer. "I think the data itself is really important because it'll help us to understand in the future possible impact of climate change and impacts of human use in areas that are normally hard to get to, at least by road," said Bakelaar. "It shows that we can achieve what had not been done before in terms of a research and development type of project and what we really showed is that we can use beyond visual line of sight technology and integrate with the local air space and gather data in the Arctic."
Greg Peacock walked across the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls, Ont., and back into Canada with his three puppies in hand, pausing to take some selfies, but he didn't cross here for the view. He chose this particular point of entry from the United States to avoid the mandatory three-day stay at a quarantine hotel that applies to air travellers entering Canada. "I don't want to spend three days or whatever it is locked up at a hotel when I'm back in Toronto to do work," he said. He's one of the many Canadians flying into U.S. airports close to the U.S.-Canada border and crossing by foot or hiring car services to drive them across in order to avoid staying at the quarantine hotels that are mandatory for air travellers. Instead of flying directly to Toronto's Pearson International Airport, Peacock flew from Los Angeles to Buffalo, N.Y., took a cab to the border, walked into Canada and took the train to Toronto. "It takes a little bit longer, but it's an adventure," he said. Peacock told CBC News that he would quarantine once he got home. Since the three-day hotel quarantine rule took effect in February, Peacock has walked across the border into Canada twice on his way home from Los Angeles, where his wife lives.(Greg Peacock) Close to 20,000 crossed by land since Feb. 21 Walking across the border isn't new or illegal, but it does contravene non-essential travel advisories and allows travellers to avoid staying in one of the federally sanctioned quarantine hotels that can cost up to $2,000 for a three-day stay — a requirement for those arriving by air. The temporary measures and the Canada-U.S. land border closure, which went into effect in March 2020, have both been extended to May 21. Peacock is not alone. Since the hotel rules came into effect on Feb. 21, nearly 20,000 people crossed the border by land (not including essential workers), according to a CBC News analysis of numbers provided by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Whether Canadians return by land or air, if they are not essential workers or otherwise exempt, under federal guidelines, they must quarantine for 14 days, with air travellers spending the first three days at a hotel until they get the result of a COVID-19 test. Land travellers must go directly to their quarantine destination after crossing the border. Special rules for snowbirds? Scott and Caryl Rutledge of Toronto opted to fly to Buffalo Niagara International Airport and hire a limousine to take them across the border rather than to fly home from Tampa, Fla., where they have property and spent the last two months "We've been vaccinated. We showed up with negative COVID tests," Scott Rutledge told CBC News as he and his wife sat in the back of the limousine on the Canadian side of Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls. "We believe ourselves to be 100 per cent healthy so far as COVID is concerned, and so anything else was an unnecessary duplication. It's excessive in the extreme, at least as it applies to us." The couple paid about $350 Cdn for the trip from the Buffalo airport, plus $200 US each for their COVID-19 tests. Scott and Caryl Rutledge arrive back in Canada after spending two months in Tampa, Fla., where they own property. The Toronto couple hired a limousine service to take them from the Buffalo airport back home. They both received a COVID-19 vaccine in Florida. (Laura Clementson/CBC) They said there should be different rules for snowbirds like them. "I think there should have been two tiers of entry: one for snowbirds — vaccinated people who have been gone for in excess of months — and ... different rules perhaps for people who have gone on a holiday for two weeks. It's a completely different thing," Caryl Rutledge said. Although land borders are closed to non-essential travel, all Canadian citizens have the right to enter Canada. But like air travellers, they need to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of arriving at the border and have a quarantine plan. For those who travel from abroad via the United States, a negative test needs to be presented upon arrival in the U.S., according to the U.S. government, and again at the land border when entering Canada. Travellers are also given a take-home test to be done on the 10th day of their return. There are no exemptions for those who have already been vaccinated. After pedestrians cross into Canada, they are escorted into a tent, shown here at the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls. There they are screened and told about COVID-19 protocols. (Greg Bruce/CBC) Local authorities monitoring quarantine compliance The CBSA told CBC News that it is not keeping track of Canadians who return to the country after getting a COVID-19 vaccination abroad. But the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) does keep track of travellers who have tested positive for COVID-19. From Feb. 22 to April 18, the agency told CBC News, it received 50,905 test results from land travellers on the day they arrived in Canada. Of those, 128 tested positive for COVID-19, for a positivity rate of 0.25 per cent. During the same period for air travellers, the agency received 144,177 test results, of which 2,541 — or 1.76 per cent — were positive for COVID-19, PHAC said. The agency is also monitoring quarantine compliance for both air and land travellers with the help of local law enforcement agencies, the RCMP and third-party security companies. Between Feb. 21 and April 19, more than 111,000 air travellers and 43,000 land travellers had received a compliance verification visit from a third party, according to PHAC. And during the same time frame, both the RCMP and local law enforcement agencies followed up on 13,500 air travellers and 5,900 land travellers — 95 per cent of whom were found to be in compliance with the quarantine orders. Prices for flights to Buffalo on the rise In an email to CBC News, Canada's public health agency said that "compliance with the border measures has been high." CBC News asked for comment from Health Canada on why people travelling by air are required to go to a hotel while those entering the country by land are not but did not get a direct response. Health Canada did say in an email that "the government of Canada is continually evaluating the impacts of border measures." Land border crossings could get more attention in light of Canada's decision Thursday to ban passenger flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days in response to rising COVID-19 case counts and the spread of new variants. Airlines seem to have also caught on to the land border loophole. Prices for flights to Buffalo from popular snowbird destinations such as Tampa, Orlando, Fla., Phoenix, Ariz., and Los Angeles have all seen a hike since the quarantine hotel rules went into effect in Canada. "I felt pretty clever at first, but apparently, more people are catching on," said Peacock, who travels back and forth on a monthly basis to be with his spouse in Los Angeles. "The flights to Buffalo were packed. The prices are going up." WATCH | How some Canadians are getting around quarantine rules for air travellers: Car services seeing steady business Ground transportation services are also getting a boost. About 30 kilometres from the Rainbow Bridge, at the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie, Ont., Bethea Reznik sits in her van in the nearest parking lot to the border. She reads while waiting for a Canadian passenger to be dropped off by an American car service. She'll then drive the Canadian to Toronto. Bethea Reznik, who owns a private car service, picks up passengers from a parking lot closest to the U.S. border after they're dropped off by an American taxi. Reznik says she's making about two round trips from Toronto each week. (Greg Bruce/CBC) American bus and taxi drivers are considered essential service providers, which allows them to shuttle Canadians over the border. "I've been quite busy," she said of her own business. "I just try to help people as much as I can." Reznik said she's making about two round trips from Toronto a week. She said she feels for her passengers who are affected by the extra steps now required to get to where they want to go. Parked near Reznik's van, Alison Noble waits for her son, Eric Noble-Marks, to be dropped off by an American taxi. The Boston law student was returning home to Toronto. Noble-Marks said he's vaccinated but given how little is still known about the ability to transmit the virus post-vaccination, he opted for a land crossing because it seemed safer than flying. Eric Noble-Marks, a Boston law student from Toronto, took an American taxi across the border to a parking lot near the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie, Ont., where his mother was waiting to drive him home.(Laura Clementson/CBC) "I wanted to do something where I minimized changing hands as much as possible," he said. He plans to quarantine at home with his mother, he said. Noble-Marks said he isn't opposed to requiring travellers to stay at a quarantine hotel if it helps slow the spread of COVID-19, but it shouldn't come at a cost. "It's one thing to stay in a hotel for a few days. It's another thing to be on the hook for it," he said. 'I was not going into a hotel' For some travellers who spoke to CBC News, avoiding a hotel stay wasn't about the cost but about health. Betty Bennett, who winters in Arizona, took an American car service from the Buffalo airport back to her home in Orillia, Ont., because she was adamant about going straight home. "I would not go to any congregate settings after hearing what's happened with the nursing homes," she said. "So there was not even a choice for me ... I was not going into a hotel." PHAC told CBC News that as of April 18, 45,194 hotel rooms had been booked at government-authorized accommodation using the Global Business System, which does not include rooms that travellers have booked directly through hotels. Each of those bookings could include multiple rooms and/or guests. The majority of rooms have been booked in Toronto with 26,454, followed by Vancouver with 10,921. About 49,000 air travellers, representing 11 per cent of the total, have been exempt from staying in a hotel. As for fines for those dodging a hotel stay, PHAC told CBC News that as of April 19, it is aware of 404 tickets given to travellers who didn't book a hotel or refused to stay in one. The fine for refusing to go to a hotel is $3,000.
Pfizer-BioNTech will send double the amount of vaccine to P.E.I. in May and June than was previously announced, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said in a public briefing Thursday. Morrison said she was pleased to announce some "good news:" Pfizer-BioNTech will send an additional 47,430 doses, which will allow for more appointments sooner and Islanders receiving second doses sooner. "Certain groups have been prioritized to receive their second dose of vaccine as close as possible to one month after their first dose, based on their risk or likelihood of experiencing severe outcomes from the disease," Morrison said. Those include: Residents of long-term care and community care facilities. Rotational workers and truck drivers who travel outside Atlantic Canada. Seniors 80 and older living in the community. People having cancer treatment. Morrison said given the new supply forecast, the previous plan to deliver a second dose to everyone within 16 weeks has now changed to within 12 weeks. Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine could also be approved in Canada for use in 12- to 15-year-olds and would be offered on P.E.I. this spring, Morrison said. Next week, Islanders 40 to 49 can begin booking vaccine appointments. P.E.I.'s Chief Nurse Marion Dowling suggested booking online is fastest and most efficient, although Islanders may also book by phone. More vaccinations per week Dowling said P.E.I.'s vaccination effort has been going "smoothly." There will be COVID-19 vaccinations for all Islanders who want them, health officials say. (Stephane Mahe/Reuters) More than 6,000 people are scheduled to be vaccinated this week alone, and that will rise to about 10,000 a week in May, with the extra vaccine. As of Tuesday this week: 46,278 doses of vaccine have been given on P.E.I. as well as 9,768 second doses. 27.4 per cent of adults over age 16 have received at least one dose. 7.3 per cent of Island residents have received two doses. P.E.I. pharmacies still have supplies of AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine available to those 55 and older. Some other provinces have begun offering that vaccine to younger Canadians, although P.E.I. has not. Morrison said that could change later this week as she receives new recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization. P.E.I. is aiming for herd immunity, which officials say will require 80 per cent of the population to be vaccinated. Dowling also reminded Islanders that P.E.I. health facilities such as hospitals are safe, and urged them to keep non-COVID-19-related health appointments. More from CBC P.E.I.
VIDRA, Romania — In the trash-strewn slums of Sintesti, less than 10 miles from Romania’s capital, Mihai Bratu scrapes a dangerous living for his Roma family amid the foul reek of burning plastic that cloys the air day and night. Like many in this community, for him illegally setting fire to whatever he can find that contains metal — from computers to tires to electrical cables — seems like his only means of survival. “We’re selling it to people who buy metal, we are poor people … we have to work hard for a week or two to get one kilogram of metal,” 34-year-old Bratu, perched on an old wooden cart, told The Associated Press. “We are struggling to feed our kids ... The rich people have the villas, look at the rich people’s palaces.” You don't have to look far. The main road that runs through Sintesti, a largely Roma village in the Vidra commune, is lined with ornate, semi-constructed villas and dotted with shiny SUVs. Behind lurk the parts where Bratu and his young children live, a social black hole with no sanitation or running water. The two worlds are strongly connected. For Octavian Berceanu, the new head of Romania’s National Environmental Guard, the government environmental protection agency, the pollution from the fires that burn here almost ceaselessly, in breach of environmental laws, was so bad that he started regular raids in the community — where he says “mafia structures” lord it over “modern slaves.” “This is a kind of slavery, because the people living here have no opportunity for school, to get a job in the city, which is very close, they don’t have infrastructure like an official power grid, water, roads — and that is destroying their perspective on life,” Berceanu told The Associated Press during a police-escorted tour in April. The slums of Sintesti, like Roma communities elsewhere, have long been ignored by authorities. They're made up of makeshift homes, where unofficially rigged electricity cables hug the ground and run over a sea of trash. “For too many years, they were allowed in some way to do this dirty job," Berceanu said. "Nobody came here in the past ... to see what's happening.” But on top of the considerable social ills, according to the environment chief, the fires can significantly hike pollution in Bucharest, potentially by as much as 20-30%, at times pushing air quality to dangerous levels. “The smoke particulates are taken by the wind 10 miles, it’s like rain over Bucharest and it’s destroying the quality of the air in the capital. It’s one hundred times more dangerous than wood-fire particles — there are a lot of toxic components,” Berceanu said. “If the local authorities are not applying the law, of course people — whatever their ethnic origin — are encouraged to continue doing what they are doing,” said Gelu Duminica, a sociologist and executive director of the Impreuna Agency, a Roma-focused non-governmental organization. Focusing on pollution from the Roma community, Duminica says, instead of on big industry or the more than 1 million cars in the densely populated capital of 2 million, is “scapegoating” and part of a political “branding campaign.” “Everywhere in the world, the poorest are exploiting the marginal resources in order to survive. We have a chain of causes: low education, low infrastructure, low development … a lot of things are low,” Duminica said “The rich Roma are controlling the poor Roma, but the rich Roma are controlled by others. If you look at who is leading and who is controlling things, it’s more than likely you'll have huge surprises. Let’s not treat it as an ethnic issue," he said. The Council of Europe estimates that 1.85 million Roma live in the country of more than 19 million, and face many challenges. A 2016 human rights report published by the European Commission, said that “systematic societal discrimination against Roma" affected their access to adequate education, housing, health care, and employment. In January this year, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis promulgated a law making anti-Roma hate crimes — verbal or physical — punishable by up to 10 years in prison. In the future, Berceanu the environment chief hopes surveillance drones with pollution sensors and infrared cameras can help paint a clearer picture of how the networks operate. “We’re working against organized crime and it’s very hard,” he said. “If we solve this problem here, very close to Bucharest, we can solve any kind of problem similar to this all around the country.” For local resident Floria, who refused to give a surname but said she was 40-something, a lack of official documents, education, and options leave her and her community with no alternatives. “We don’t want to do this. Why don’t they give us jobs like (communist dictator Nicolae) Ceausescu used to, they would come with buses, with cars, and take us to town to work,” she told The Associated Press. “Gypsies are seen as the worst people no matter where we go or what we do.” Mihai Bratu blames local authorities for the plight of his community, for the lack of roads, the lack of action. “The mayor doesn’t help us!” he exclaims, as a small boy shifts building materials from Bratu's horse cart to the muddy yard next door. “What do we have? What can we have? Some little house? — whatever God granted us.” Stephen McGrath, The Associated Press
Jill Wenzel, 45, is a Regina resident who woke up Thursday morning feeling hopeful. She is now eligible to book an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine, as the province opened up appointments to anyone aged 44 and over on Thursday. But when she logged online at 8:00 a.m. CST — when the province's booking system opened up — the City of Regina was not listed. "I thought by 8:01 I would have an appointment in Regina and everything would be wonderful," Wenzel said. "Well, there were appointments available in other communities but Regina wasn't even an option." Some people have booked appointments outside of Regina in order to get the shot. (Government of Saskatchewan) Saskatchewan's capital city, which is the province's hotspot for COVID-19 fuelled by variants of concern, did finally show up. But there were no appointments available. The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) said the demand for appointments outweighs the current available supply. The health authority added that additional appointments are expected to open up in Regina and Saskatoon but could no say when. More clinics will be added too as more vaccines arrive. The city's drive-thru clinic also remains closed. Wenzel is not eligible for a vaccine there because the SHA cut off the age at 46. "It's a very frustrating experience. I went to bed last night hopeful…I would have my appointment and feel a little better about it all, but it was anything but," Wenzel said. "My age group lost out." Vaccine clinics accepting patients outside of Regina Wenzel ended up booking a vaccine appointment at a clinic in Weyburn, something others are contemplating. "Regina residents are being asked not to leave the city, but I can tell you, as a 44 year old, some of the smaller communities around Regina with open appointments in the next few days are looking pretty tempting right now. I doubt I'm the only one," Twitter user Greg Bamford said Thursday. With a travel advisory in place for the Regina area, Wenzel doesn't think driving to Weyburn for a vaccine makes the most sense. Plus she would have to take time off work to drive over an hour. "The crappy part is I can't go back and look for appointment times [in Regina] because I already have one booked," Wenzel said. She said she doesn't know if she should cancel her appointment and try her luck again Wednesday, or if she should keep her appointment in Weyburn. Regina's mass drive-thru clinic located at Evraz Place remains closed due to a shortage of COVID-19 vaccines. The drive-thru had cut off eligible age groups at 46. (Submitted by Saskatchewan Health Authority) Calls to improve user experience "I'm concerned with it all because it's not working," Wenzel said, who is calling for better communication and a better booking system. "They need to monitor their system. I think sometimes they think the systems are foolproof. But you're not doing any of your beta testing with the average person, so it's a very frustrating experience." Aaron Genest, a manager with Siemens Digital Industries in Saskatoon, agreed the province needs a better system. "Public-facing health systems are some of the most critical pieces of software we build as a province. It's vital that usability be front and centre when considering how they will be deployed," Genest said in a statement. "It's frustrating that our online vaccine booking system has the challenges that it does and I hope that [the SHA] is working actively to improve the user experience as an increasing proportion of Saskatchewan becomes eligible for vaccination."
A major mining company near Williams Lake, B.C., is laying off dozens of workers and blaming the move on provincial red tape. Taseko Mines Limited — a Vancouver-based firm that owns the Gibraltar Mine located about 61 kilometres north of the Cariboo city — announced this week that at least 40 Gibraltar employees, including truck drivers and drill operators, will be laid off effective next Tuesday. Brian Battison, Taseko's vice-president of corporate affairs, says Gibraltar has no option but to lay off staff because it has failed to get permission from the B.C. government to restart operation of an existing pit that could have kept workers occupied. According to Taseko's website, the copper-molybdenum mine employs about 700 people, most of whom live in Williams Lake, Quesnel and 100 Mile House in B.C.'s central Interior. The company says Gibraltar paid workers $121 million of wages in 2019. Lengthy consultation Battison says Gibraltar notified the Ministry of Energy and Mines last year of its intention to restart its East Pit and subsequently filed a Notice of Departure, a paperwork required by the province whenever a company needs to change the mining activities it has planned. The ministry required an amendment to the company's mining permit for the pit to be restarted, he says, and that in turn required consultation with local communities. But Battison says no progress has happened since the consultation process began last May. "When deadlines are set by governments, when certain things are supposed to take place, those guidelines are never adhered to by governments. They extend [deadlines], but they seem to put off making a decision," he told CBC reporter Jenifer Norwell. "As a result, working people needlessly pay the price for government inaction," he added. "It's frustrating." Engaging stakeholders In a written statement to CBC News, Energy and Mines Minister Bruce Ralston says the province is still consulting with the Tsilhqot'in Nation and other stakeholders on Gibraltar's mining permit amendment. He says the consultation process has been extended to May 7. "Our government's priority is to ensure all voices are heard during the consultation process and that projects are processed in a fair and timely manner," Ralston wrote. In 2019, members of the Tsilhqot'in Nation launched legal action and roadlock against Taseko's mining activities around Teẑtan Biny, about 183 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake, which they consider a sacred lake. Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb says the consultation process required by the province for amending Gibraltar Mine's permit is unnecessary.(Tina Lovgreen/CBC) Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb says the consultation process for Gibraltar's mine pit and the ensuing layoffs could have been prevented. "It's always the red tape and the bureaucracy that slows things down," Cobb said Thursday to Shelley Joyce, the host of CBC's Daybreak Kamloops. "The [provincial] government is spending millions of dollars trying to recover the economy, and then we turn around and let that paperwork lapse and cause layoffs." "It doesn't make sense," the mayor said.
Canada will ban all flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days after pressure from provincial leaders who are making tough decisions to tackle surging COVID-19 variant cases at home.Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said of the people who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus after arriving by plane, half have come from India. There are also disproportionate infections among travellers arriving from Pakistan, she said."By eliminating direct travel from these countries, public health experts will have the time to evaluate the ongoing epidemiology for that region," Hajdu said Thursday.Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada's deputy chief public health officer, said now is not the time to be travelling abroad.Earlier Thursday, Quebec Premier Francois Legault joined a number of other provincial leaders in calling for tougher quarantine rules for passengers on international flights and for people driving into Canada. The B.1.617 variant that appears to be wreaking havoc in India was detected in Quebec earlier this week.Quebec reported 1,248 new cases and seven more deaths but, weeks after implementing tighter restrictions in cities that became centres for fast-spreading variants, noted a slight drop in hospitalizations.As many provinces moved to tighten restrictions to curb community spread, Ontario Premier Doug Ford became emotional as he apologized for acting too hastily with health orders last week."I’m sorry and I sincerely apologize," Ford said from his home where he is isolating after being exposed to COVID-19."Because as premier, as I said right from the beginning, the buck stops with me.”Ford choked up talking about how people were angry after his government increased police enforcement powers and closed playgrounds last Friday, decisions which have since been reversed.The premier said there are no easy choices left as a devastating third wave of the pandemic washes over Ontario.Ford, who was among the politicians calling for travel restrictions, also promised a paid sick-leave program.There were 3,682 new cases reported Thursday in Ontario and 40 more deaths. Hospitalizations and the number of people in intensive care have reached the highest levels in the province since the pandemic started.Elsewhere, Nova Scotia closed its provincial boundary to non-essential travel from all parts of Canada — except Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador — as it deals with a spike in cases. The province also reinstated "circuit breaker" restrictions for the Halifax Regional Municipality.Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister rejected calls from Winnipeg's mayor to tighten provincial restrictions to stop a steady climb of new infections in recent days. There were 258 new daily cases reported in the province, the highest number there since January.Many politicians and health officials also voiced concerns about continued travel within Canada.Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia's provincial health officer, said the province's incoming restrictions banning all non-essential travel outside health regions will slow down spread in COVID-19 hot spots.There were 1,006 new cases of COVID-19 and four more deaths in B.C., as well as a record-high of 502 people in hospital.Njoo said he felt discouraged by people making the choice to cross provincial boundaries for things like ski trips or holidays. He said too many health-care systems are overwhelmed and more people still need to get vaccinations. "This is not the time for that," Njoo said. "There's a crisis going on."There has been a 22 per cent increase in the number of people hospitalized nationally over last week and a 21 per cent rise in those in intensive-care units.Canada passed a vaccination milestone Thursday morning with more than 10 million people — about 30 per cent of the adult population — receiving at least one dose of vaccine.Maj. Gen. Dany Fortin, who leads the country's distribution effort, said he remains optimistic despite Moderna struggling with production and no further confirmed shipments of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.The first delivery of 300,000 Johnson & Johnson doses is to arrive in Canada next week and be distributed to the provinces the first week of May."Overall, the quantities of vaccines we can expect from manufacturers continue to grow so that more and more Canadians can continue to be vaccinated."This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 22, 2021. Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
Quebec's premier is hinting that upcoming legislation strengthening the province's language laws will include the notwithstanding clause to protect the bill from constitutional challenges. The notwithstanding clause — Section 33 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms — allows governments to adopt laws that violate Canadians' fundamental freedoms such as freedom of thought and religion. Legault told reporters today there is a "good chance" the new language bill will include the controversial clause because a judge earlier this week struck down part of his government's secularism law, known as Bill 21. That law forbids public sector workers such as teachers and police officers from wearing religious symbols on the job, and it also includes the notwithstanding clause. Superior Court Justice Marc-Andre Blanchard upheld most of Bill 21 on Tuesday, but struck down clauses pertaining to English-language school boards because they relate to minority language rights, which cannot be overridden by Section 33. Legault is suggesting the language bill will likely include Section 33 because judges like Blanchard are interpreting the Canadian Constitution in ways that don't reflect what the majority of Quebecers want. "I think that, with the judgment we have this week about the Bill 21, it's clear that the interpretation of the Canadian Constitution, that (Quebec) didn't sign, is sometimes giving us some answers that are not representing what the majority of Quebecers want," Legault told reporters. Quebec Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette, who is also for responsible for the French-language charter, intends to table reforms to the law, known as Bill 101, later this spring. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
SAN FRANCISCO — California public schools have experienced a sharp decline in enrolment this year as the pandemic forced millions into online school, according to data made public Thursday. The drop came as the state's school districts dawdled in bringing children back to the classroom, making California one of the slowest in the country to reopen schools. The California Department of Education data shows that the number of students at K-12 schools dropped by more than 160,000 this academic year, most of them at the K-6 level, to a total of 6 million. The drop is by far the biggest decline in years and represents the clearest picture yet of the pandemic’s devastating toll on California public schools. “The annual snapshot of fall enrolment shows a sharp one-year decline as the state and nation grappled with a deadly pandemic that disrupted all aspects of public education,” the education department said in a statement. The exodus was led by white students who account for just 22% of California’s public school population but represent about half of the departing students for the 2020-21 school year, which could increase disparities in California’s public education system. California has the most students of all states in the U.S. and the overall student body has hovered at about 6.2 million in recent years. In previous years, the number of students fell by about 20,000 to 30,000 annually, led by declining birth rates, and that rate was expected to continue. When the pandemic hit and Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered public schools to close in March 2020, no one expected the closures would last as long as they did. Most of California’s public schools started this academic year with distance learning and many continued that method into the spring. In-person classes started resuming this month in the state’s largest urban school districts. Among the concerned parents who switched to private school was Aurora Guel, a San Diego County mother who said distance learning sent her high school senior into a downward spiral. “She became really depressed with all the isolation that started when school closed,” said Guel. Her 18-year-old daughter’s grades had dropped to the point she was failing three classes; she lost motivation to apply for college and wouldn’t leave her room, even for dinner with the family. “We needed to do something to get her out of this deep hole she had fallen into," Guel said. After transferring to a private Catholic school in October, the teen's spirits and her grades are up. She has a college acceptance and is looking forward to her prom, a milestone that many public schools have scrapped. “She's doing so much better now," her mother said. Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond called the numbers concerning but said officials are optimistic that enrolment will rebound as more schools reopen to in-person learning. He said officials are working with schools and families to understand why so many families left and how to bring them back. The public school exodus happened nationwide. There is no national data available on the 2020-2021 enrolment decline but an analysis from 33 states by the Chalkbeat non-profit news organization covering education and The Associated Press published in December showed that public K-12 enrolment in the fall had dropped by about 500,000 students compared to the previous school year. California’s 2020-2021 enrolment declined 2.6% from the previous school year, driven by a combination of factors. Fewer California parents enrolled their children in kindergarten, which accounts for a decline of 61,000 students and the largest drop in enrolment. That could indicate that parents either held off sending their children to kindergarten or enrolled them in private schools, which saw an overall enrolment increase of 20,000, or 4%, from the previous year. The data also indicate that homeschooling surged in the fall, the CDE said. Some of California's biggest urban districts had the largest declines. Los Angeles Unified School District, the largest in the state, experienced an enrolment decline of almost 22,000, or 4%, to 575,000, the CDE said. The data released Thursday was collected from all of the state's school districts in October, and education officials say it is too soon to know if the trend has continued since then. Year-end figures won’t be known for months but the data help illustrate how the pandemic upended public schools and has prompted concerns about funding for California’s 1,000 school districts, which is tied to headcounts. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom's budget proposal calls for schools not to be penalized for enrolment declines, but education advocates are seeking extra money for low-income students, English learners and foster kids. “Any changes in enrolment will have impacts on funding and equity,” said Christopher Nellum, interim executive director for The Education Trust-West, an education equity advocacy group. “It’s just going to exacerbate the problems that already existed.” Nellum said schools will need to think strategically about how to engage Black and brown students, who were more likely to spend the year in distance learning than their white peers who moved to private schools or other learning options. Those families, who were disproportionately hit by the virus, have also been more hesitant to return their children to classrooms as they reopen. Schools will also need to find ways to convince private school defectors to return, he said. For parents like Jonathan Alloy of San Francisco, that will be a lost cause. Alloy kept his 8- and 10-year-old children in a distance learning “pod” as classrooms stayed closed but recently decided to abandon the school district and the city. Alloy said he lost faith in the city's school district, which has been embroiled in scandals, infighting and lawsuits, including one launched by the city attorney for the district's failure to reopen schools more quickly. San Francisco still no timetable for returning middle and high school students to classrooms. Because of that combined with San Francisco’s high cost of living and more expensive private school tuition, Alloy is moving to Connecticut, closer to his wife's family. “To leave is just crushing,” he said. Jocelyn Gecker, The Associated Press
Police in West Vancouver are searching for a suspect after a stranger allegedly pushed a woman to the ground as she was walking alone at night last weekend. The 29-year-old woman was walking near the intersection of Nelson Avenue and Bay Street in Horseshoe Bay at about 8 p.m. on Sunday when an unknown man grabbed her from behind and pushed her down, according to a police press release. She broke a tooth and suffered cuts and scrapes in the fall. "This appears to have been a random assault, which we understand will be concerning to our community," Const. Kevin Goodmurphy said in the release. "Our investigators have been working diligently to identify the suspect in this incident, and to gather all available evidence." The suspect is described as about six feet tall and wearing a dark hoodie. Investigators believe that a man captured by surveillance cameras near the scene of the attack may have witnessed what happened, and they've released photos in an effort to reach him. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the West Vancouver Police Department at 604-925-7300 or leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. Police have released surveillance images of a man they say might have witnessed an assault on a woman Sunday night in Horseshoe Bay, West Vancouver.(West Vancouver Police Department)
The Oscars are finally being handed out this weekend after being delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and public health restrictions against gathering and travel.
The Saskatchewan government says it will reopen care homes to visitors, but only under certain conditions, starting a week from now. Beginning on April 29, residents will be able to receive two family members at a time indoors, provided at least 90 per cent of residents at that home are fully vaccinated. Three weeks must have also elapsed since second doses were administered at the home. Up to four visitors per resident will be allowed to visit outdoors. The province said nothing about thresholds for visitation being tied to vaccine uptake among care home workers or about requirements for visitors to be fully vaccinated, though visitors will have to follow all public health rules, including mandatory masks. As of Wednesday, 79 per cent of Saskatchewan health-care workers, including but not limited to staff at care homes, had received their first dose, while 47 per cent had received two doses. As of April 16 — the last time the province released such data — the vast majority of care home residents had been vaccinated. (Government of Saskatchewan) Health officials say they would now include health-care workers in their reporting of vaccination uptake among the general population. Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, has said some outbreaks have happened in care homes where not all workers got vaccinated. Dozens of homes already qualify The province announced the visitation changes — eagerly anticipated by families ever since homes were locked down in mid-November amid the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic — on Thursday afternoon, shortly before a news conference hosted by Everett Hindley, the province's minister in charge of issues affecting seniors. "This is by far the number one question and the number one phone call and letter and email that I have heard and had come into my office," Hindley said. "No, we can't fill up Mosaic Stadium just yet. But some of us can go see mom on Mother's Day." Hindley says 43 of Saskatchewan's long-term care homes already qualify for visitation. "Many more will qualify in the coming days," he said. Long-term care homes are regulated and inspected by the Saskatchewan Health Authority, and so the SHA will decide when such homes are eligible to ease visitor restrictions, according to a release. Privately operated personal care homes, which are regulated by the Ministry of Health, "are responsible for aligning themselves with the same operational policies as the SHA and must be able to verify that they meet the requirements," according to the release. Ryan Meili, the leader of the Saskatchewan NDP, echoed Hindley in saying it's been hard for families to be separated for so long. Visitation was severely restricted beginning on Nov. 19. But Meili says some key things need to happen. "I would want to make sure that all of the staff working there and anyone who's on a list to go and visit is fully vaccinated, because the last thing we want, especially as we see growth in new variants, is to get back to what we saw this winter," he said, referring to the second wave and its deadly impact on Saskatchewan care homes. Deaths in care homes continued to rise in early 2021 Hindley's appearance came the day after the Saskatchewan NDP grilled him in the legislative assembly about the deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the privately operated but publicly supported Parkside Extendicare home in Regina. Matt Love, Opposition critic for issues affecting seniors, also cited new figures on COVID-19 deaths in care homes that Hindley recently provided in an after-hours committee. The new figures showed a continued rise in deaths among long-term care and personal-care home residents from late January and to mid-April, a period in which such residents were prioritized for early vaccination against COVID-19. In total, the number of deaths increased to 146 from 90. As of Jan. 27, the breakdown of deaths stood as follows: Affiliate Special Care Homes (Private Non-Profit): 27. Contract Special Care Homes (Private For-Profit): 39. Personal Care Homes (Private): 7. Saskatchewan Health Authority Care Homes (Public): 17. As Hindley reported, and as Love underscored Wednesday, as of April 12 the cumulative death figures had increased as follows: Affiliate Special Care Homes (Private Non-Profit): 48. Contract Special Care Homes (Private For-Profit): 44. Personal Care Homes (Private): 23. Saskatchewan Health Authority Care Homes (Public): 31. Love says many deaths took place at Parkside Extendicare, pointed to the facility's outdated use of four-person bedrooms, and called on the Saskatchewan government to end its "deadly relationship" with the company. The Saskatchewan Health Authority contracts Extendicare to operate Parkside and four other care homes in the province. WATCH | Love grills seniors minister on care home deaths Extendicare has already confirmed it will no longer house people four to a room. "We share in the sadness of our community over the devastating toll COVID-19 has taken on Extendicare Parkside and other long-term care homes across the country," company spokesperson Laura Gallant said. "Extendicare continues to believe seniors' care, and the support it receives, must be modernized to meet to needs of residents. This includes increased staffing levels and buildings that are built to modern standards to keep residents safe." The company also called for a "sustainable funding model" with the Saskatchewan government. 'An old style of doing things' Hindley said the number of deaths at Parkside is of "grave concern," but added he does not want to step on the toes of Saskatchewan's ombudsman, who is conducting an investigation into the Parkside outbreak. "She hasn't reached out to me personally as the minister," Hindley said of the ombudsman. "I don't believe she's reached out to my office." Hindley says no new care homes built in the province since 2007 have featured four-person bedrooms. "That's an old style of doing things," he said. Saskatchewan's oldest seniors have been the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to updated statistics released Thursday, just under half of all COVID-19 deaths in the province, 234, have been among people aged 80 and over. (Government of Saskatchewan)
As the federal government moves to ban flights from India and Pakistan amid surging rates of COVID-19 and the threat of additional variants of concern, there are worries about what the measure will mean for Canadians already abroad. Canada will ban direct flights from the two countries for a period of 30 days beginning Thursday night, officials announced at an Ottawa news conference. The ban will apply to both private and commercial air passenger flights. Passengers departing from either country to Canada via an indirect flight will need to test negative for the virus at their last point of departure. "I want to say that our hearts are with the citizens of India and Pakistan, and indeed the whole region during these incredible difficult times," Health Minister Patty Hajdu said. Earlier in the day, as anticipation about possible travel restrictions simmered, Jaskaran Sandhu, director of administration with the World Sikh Organization of Canada, told CBC News he hoped any limits on travel would include measures to bring home Canadians as quickly and safely as possible. The last time Canada moved to limit travel, he said, the process was "less than straightforward." Simran Bal, the daughter of a Indian store grocer in Toronto's Parkdale neighbourhood, expressed similar fears after an emergency that required her father to travel to India. "Now we're afraid that he might be stranded there ... because he's in the more remote area. We already have family that's already stranded there. They live in England and they're all of their flights have already been cancelled," Bal said. "The situation's just getting so dire." 'We're tremendously worried' It's not yet clear what the ban will mean for Canadians currently abroad in either country. The move comes a day after Quebec reported its first known case of the variant first identified in India, the B1617 strain of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The variant of concern was identified in a patient who had received a first dose of vaccine in January, but nevertheless became infected months later. British Columbia has also identified 39 instances of the variant. Late Wednesday, India reported 314,644 new COVID-19 cases over the previous 24 hours, according to Johns Hopkins University — the highest number of infections recorded in a single day in any country since the start of the pandemic. Meanwhile, several hospitals are reporting acute shortages of beds and medicine and are running on dangerously low levels of oxygen. The New Delhi High Court on Wednesday ordered India to divert oxygen from industrial use to hospitals to save people's lives. "You can't have people die because there is no oxygen. Beg, borrow or steal, it is a national emergency," the judges said. "We're tremendously worried," Sandhu told CBC News. "We continue to see an Indian government under Modi that quite frankly has not stepped up to the plate to support locals, has not been taking this seriously. And the incompetence has been quite glaring as they continue to hold large political rallies in states that are holding state elections," Sandhu said. 'Whole families are getting infected by one traveller' That, as the situation in Ontario hospitals grows increasingly dire. Intensive care units across the province are dealing with a record number of patients, with doctors warning whole families are ending up in hospital while they themselves are at a breaking point. WATCH | 'It's just the endless queue of them': An emergency doctor describes a hospital overwhelmed "The next few weeks are going to be terrible," said Dr. Kashif Pirzada, an emergency care physician in North York, one of Toronto's COVID-19 hot spots. "Our system is going to be pushed far beyond what it was designed for." Pirzada spoke to CBC News a day after what he said was the toughest shift in his entire career, a day on which he saw approximately 20 patients in the span of just a few hours. "Whole families are getting infected by one traveler," he said. "It's just the endless queue of them coming in." All the while, Pirzada has had the heart-wrenching task of trying to answer his patients asking the question: "Am I going to be okay?" "And I can't honestly answer them honestly that they'll be fine. Because I have no idea. I tell them, we're going to do everything we can for you. We're gonna give you every medication we have. But we don't know." Buying time through cutting travel Shutting down travel will buy Canada time, says Pirzada. But right now, he says, travel return system is rife with loopholes. Many can pay a fine and leave the mandatory three-day hotel quarantine, and there's no enforced quarantine for those travelling on private planes or the land border, Pirzada said, adding the the list of exceptions for essential travelers is a long one. "The fear is, is that we're going to run into a variant that might even evade vaccines. So we need to slow down the spread of these things as much as possible," he said. "Otherwise, we start this pandemic all over again." Earlier Thursday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford along with Quebec Premier Francois Legault, sent a joint letter to the Prime Minister requesting stricter measures including reducing incoming international flights and more protective actions at the Canada-U.S. land border. Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, whose city has been hard hit by the pandemic's third wave, issued a blunter call on Twitter: "Close the airport" in reference to Pearson International — Canada's biggest and busiest airport. Peel's regional council echoed that sentiment in a unanimous request to Trudeau to suspend inter-provincial and international leisure travel to the airport — something Thursday's measure did not address. 'Not going to end until the world gets vaccinated' Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease physician and associate professor at McMaster University, told CBC News Thursday he believes beefing up Canada's quarantine measures for travelers might be a better approach than "playing whack-a-mole" in trying to decide what specific flights to ban. Regardless, both doctors say the situation in India is a grim reminder of just how crucial it is that people be vaccinated, not only in Canada but globally. "We can't assume that when we're protected, we're safe. Because until the whole world is safe, this will keep happening," said Pirzada. Chagla agrees. "This is not going to end until the world gets vaccinated."
PORT HAWKESBURY, N.S. — A former manager with a clinic for veterans in Nova Scotia told an inquiry Thursday the facility had a shortage of psychiatric services when a former soldier was referred there. Derek Leduc, the former health services manager for the Operational Stress Injury Clinic in Nova Scotia, testified at the inquiry investigating events that led Afghanistan war veteran Lionel Desmond to kill himself and three of his family members in 2017. "We had very limited psychiatric resources at that time," Leduc said of the clinic during Thursday's proceedings. Leduc said a "building wait list" of clients seeking to access the facility's specialized services did delay care. Inquiry counsel Shane Russell asked Leduc if "there was a supply and demand bottleneck on these resources" in the fall of 2016 when Desmond was referred for care, and Leduc said there was. "You were cutting off some of the demand coming through the door, and the rationale was that you couldn't meet it," Russell said. The clinic eventually recommended to Veterans Affairs Canada that prospective clients might be able to get quicker access to resources through the community. At the time, the clinic only had one psychiatrist who was working part-time. Leduc said Desmond's case was put on hold while the occupational stress injury clinic determined if he had a family doctor. A former nurse at the clinic, Natasha Tofflemire, previously told the inquiry that the clinic put his file on hold on Oct. 6, 2016 while it waited to hear back from Desmond's case manager with Veterans Affairs about the family doctor. Tofflemire said the federal agency did not call back about Desmond’s file, and she left her job about a week after his case was put on hold. The inquiry previously heard Desmond was diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder and major depression in 2011 and received four years of treatment before he left the Canadian Armed Forces in 2015. During an earlier hearing, Zimmer noted Desmond was complaining of worsening PTSD symptoms when he showed up at a hospital emergency room in Antigonish, N.S., on Oct. 24, 2016. Zimmer read from hospital files showing Desmond was feeling angry, sleep-deprived, overwhelmed, depressed and paranoid when he spoke to doctors in the emergency ward. Desmond also talked about his inability to navigate the systems set up by Veterans Affairs. On Jan. 3, 2017, the former infantryman killed his 31-year-old wife, Shanna, their 10-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, and his 52-year-old mother, Brenda, before turning the gun on himself in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 22, 2021. — — — This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
Turkey doesn't accept international rules when it comes to exploratory drilling for gas in the eastern Mediterranean, Greece's foreign minister has told Euronews. View on euronews
MONTREAL — The Journal de Montreal newspaper is being criticized for running a photo from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's 2018 trip to India on its front page today to accompany a COVID-19 story. Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, "The Indian variant has arrived." The cover refers to Quebec's first case of a novel coronavirus variant that emerged in India, and it asks "Justin" whether ties with India will be cut quickly. Benoit Charette, the provincial minister responsible for fighting racism, said today on Twitter he fears the cover photo could fuel prejudice in the province. The Journal's cover drew criticism from other politicians in Quebec City, including Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade, who called it "very dangerous." Dany Doucet, editor-in-chief of the newspaper, said the photo was chosen to illustrate Trudeau's attachment to India and the difficult choice he faces regarding flights from that country. "Those who didn't understand this certainly haven't read the stories inside, as too many commentators sometimes don't," Doucet told QMI Agency, which is also owned by the Journal de Montreal's publisher, Quebecor Inc. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
The family of a Montreal woman who was found dead on the floor of a room in the ER at Lakeshore General Hospital on Montreal's West Island two months ago is asking Premier François Legault to personally intervene in the case to help them get answers. At a virtual news conference Thursday, family members said they've heard next to nothing from both the hospital and the coroner's office since the death of their mother, Candida Macarine. "We've been waiting for a phone call, a letter, or an email that never came," Macarine's daughter, Gilda, said. "This silence is very disturbing. My mother cannot rest in peace until we get the answers," she added. Candida Macarine died Feb. 27, a few hours after being admitted to the hospital. She was found dead on the floor of a negative pressure room. Nurses had warned managers several times that it was next-to-impossible to see a patient in the room. Macarine's family was never told that she was found dead and alone on the floor. Staff at the hospital only told them their mother died of cardiac arrest. It wasn't until they noticed a CBC News story two weeks later about a woman found "dead and ice cold" on the floor beside her bed that they realized that woman was their mother. It wasn't until March 23, a month after Macarine died, that the hospital finally admitted its communications with the family were "incomplete" and apologized. Family begs premier for help At that time, the hospital asked the coroner's office to investigate, and said it had already launched an internal investigation into what happened. The family says, since then, they've had no contact from either the hospital or the coroner's office. "We're calling on Premier Legault to help our family get the answers. We believe that he has compassion and he understands ordinary families," Gilda Macarine told the news conference. Gilda Macarine was often in tears during Thursday's news conference, as she talked about the frustration of not having answers about the circumstances of her mother's death.(CBC News) "I'm begging you Mr. Legault," she added, tears streaming down her cheeks. Coroner's office, health agency say they're open to talking Jake Lamotta-Granato, a spokesperson for the Quebec Coroner's office, emailed CBC a statement. "An investigation has been well underway into the death of Mrs. Candida Macarine since the notification of the death to the Coroner's Office at the end of March," Lamotta-Granato said. He said generally coroners keep families up to date on major developments in investigations, and he urged the Macarine family to get in touch if they had questions. The Macarine family said they sent a letter to Quebec's chief coroner last week and haven't heard back. Annie Charbonneau, a spokesperson for the CIUSSS de l'Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, the health agency that governs Lakeshore General Hospital, also emailed a statement to CBC. "We reiterate our wish to first meet the family to build bridges with them. The coroner's inquest is underway. We are actively participating in it," Charbonneau said. The head of the CIUSSS, Lynne McVey, offered to meet with the Macarine family last month. They refused, saying they no longer trusted the CIUSSS. Gilda Macarine said Thursday that the family was offered a 30-minute meeting with McVey. "What can you do for that 30-minute meeting? Just to say hi, hello, how are you and sit down? For me, it's not enough," she said. Family haunted Glida Macarine and her brother Emmanuel both say they're haunted by their mother's death. Emmanuel is currently staying at the condo where his mother lived. "I can't sleep. I stay up until 3:00 in the morning just thinking about it. Everywhere I look, it's my mom. I see my mom," he said. Gilda Macarine is herself a nurse. She said when she cares for elderly patients, she can't help but think of her mother. "It's so heavy in my heart every time I go to work," she said. "These people we are taking care of them, feeding them, cleaning them, and then I always look back to my mother," she said. "My mom died because nobody took care of her in their hospital," she said. Timeline Feb. 26: Candida Macarine is admitted to Lakeshore General Hospital suffering from breathing problems. Feb. 27: Macarine is found "dead and ice cold" on the floor of a negative pressure room in the ER. Hospital staff only tell the Macarine family she died of cardiac arrest, and don't mention the other circumstances surrounding her death. March 9: The day of Candida Macarine's funeral, Health Minister Christian Dubé offers condolences and says the ministry will monitor the situation; the family goes to the hospital after the funeral to try to get answers. April 22: Family holds news conference asking premier Francois Legault to intervene, saying they've heard nothing from coroner's office or CIUSSS for a month