Canadians are trying to decipher confusing advice from public health officials about what kind of gathering, if any, is appropriate and safe for Thanksgiving.
Canadians are trying to decipher confusing advice from public health officials about what kind of gathering, if any, is appropriate and safe for Thanksgiving.
TORONTO — A student found at her high school prom with cocaine in her purse has failed to have her case thrown out as a violation of her rights. In convicting the young woman, Ontario court Judge Amit Ghosh said there was nothing wrong with the mandatory search that turned up the drug. "Despite the absence of reasonable grounds, the mandatory security search of bags at a prom is reasonable in all the circumstances," Ghosh said in his recent decision. "This was a voluntarily attended prom party." The teen, Maria Calabretta, was charged with possession in June 2019 when she went to her prom at a banquet hall in Vaughan, Ont. She had a two-gram bag of cocaine in her purse. Evidence was that Calabretta had bought an entry ticket that stated drugs and alcohol were prohibited. She stood in a security line at the hall while school administrators briefly checked bags and purses for illicit substances, alcohol or weapons. Men searched the male students' belongings, women the females'. About 300 students attended the prom and about half were younger than 18, court records show. The mandatory bag searches and hiring of off-duty officers, the school said, were to ensure the safety and security of attendees, not to investigate criminal activity. When it was her turn, Calabretta opened her purse for the vice-principal, who, after spotting a small straw inside that could be used for snorting a drug, found the baggie. The teen quickly admitted it was coke. At that point, the vice-principal alerted nearby paid-duty officers, who arrested her for possession. Calabretta argued at trial the mandatory searches were done without reasonable grounds in violation of the charter. She wanted the cocaine evidence thrown out. Ghosh, however, was having none of it. He noted a charter search violation occurs when a person has a "reasonable expectation of privacy." While the accused did have such an expectation regarding her purse, it was lessened given the situation, the judge said. Calabretta, he said, could simply have chosen to leave the prom to get rid of the drugs, and then returned. The off-duty officers were not involved in the search, he noted. It was not, he said, similar to a situation in which police stop a motorist and demand a breath sample or search the vehicle. In this case, the vice-principal testified the student could have refused to open her bag when asked, and would then likely have just been asked to leave. Any impact on her charter rights, Ghosh said, was "negligible at best." Calabretta's lawyer said his client would have no comment. This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Oct. 7, 2020. Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
Republicans are mobilizing thousands of volunteers to watch early voting sites and ballot drop boxes leading up to November's election, part of an effort to find evidence to back up President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated complaints about widespread voter fraud. Across key battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Florida and Wisconsin, Republican poll watchers will be searching for irregularities, especially with regard to mail-in ballots whose use is surging amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to more than 20 officials involved in the effort. The mission, the officials said, is to capture photos and videos Republicans can use to support so-far unfounded claims that mail voting is riddled with chicanery, and to help their case if legal disputes erupt over the results of the Nov. 3 contest between Republican incumbent Trump and his Democratic opponent Joe Biden.
Dr. Howard Njoo, the deputy chief public health officer, and health minister Patty Hajdu commented on a recent report from the Toronto Star revealing that some areas of Toronto are seeing more than 10 per cent of COVID-19 tests coming back positive.
"I've had so many people write me letters saying, 'Thank you so much,'" said Hilton, 39, who said she did not speak to her parents for 20 years because they sent her to Provo Canyon School in Utah. In the documentary, which premiered on her YouTube page this month, Hilton alleges she was mentally and physically abused, placed in solidarity confinement for hours at a time and forced to take unknown medications. Hilton said she was sent to Provo and several other schools for troubled teens after years of rebellion.
Former prime minister John Turner was remembered as a gifted politician with a strong social conscience during a state funeral in Toronto, which was significantly scaled back because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Victoria's iconic 112-year-old Empress Hotel will be out of commission this winter.Fairmont Hotels and Resorts announced late Monday that the hotel will close completely for 87 days, starting Jan. 3, to complete a necessary $3-million renovation to its heating system. A release from Fairmont Hotels and Resorts says there'll be "periods of time where the building will be without heat ... or hot water," as the project involves replacing the building's steam heating system with a high-efficiency hot water heating system, along with replacing two 1960's-era steam boilers and hot water tanks.The hotel's automation system, which controls things like heating, lighting and security features, will also be upgraded. The building is expected to reopen on April 1.The hotel's general manager Indu Brar said in a press release that "being able to leverage the slower season and reduced tourism due to COVID-19 travel restrictions gives us the opportunity to complete these necessary upgrades."Union 'disappointed,' as workers laid off yet againPublic Relations director Tracey Drake said employees will be laid off during the three-month closure, and the hotel is extending its recall time period from 12 months to 24 months, so 90 per cent of employees can return. "[These] are always our quietest months of the year, so many of our colleagues do not work during these months anyways," added Drake.She couldn't say how many employees will be out of work, as many remain laid off from when the hotel closed in March due to COVID-19.Stu Shields, a national representative of Unifor, the union representing the hotel workers, said he's upset that around 75 employees who'd returned to work when the hotel reopened will be out of work yet again. The workers are voting on whether to approve the one-year recall extension that would allow them to reclaim their jobs until March 2022. Results will be known next week. "They are understandably disappointed. They were really hoping that business would open up. It's back onto [Employment Insurance] for the vast majority of the workers there," he said, adding the union is skeptical that the hotel has to close entirely to complete its upgrades.A prudent time to renovate, say tourism advocatesPaul Nursey, CEO of Destination Greater Victoria, said it's a "prudent time" for the Empress Hotel to renovate, given the slow season expected."They're making a strategic investment ... and it shows a commitment to improve the guest experience," Nursey said.Anthony Everett, CEO of Tourism Vancouver Island said he's surprised the Empress will be closing completely, but expects tourism numbers to drop significantly in Victoria and across Vancouver Island this winter. "Successful businesses … have been using this time to do those things that they otherwise might not be doing, [such as] improvements," he explained. Nursey said he's sympathetic to those businesses who cannot afford to make improvements for the long-term this winter."There's a lot of anxiety as we're heading into the fall," Everett said, adding that "there are going to be some tough decisions this winter" as many businesses decide whether to keep their doors open.
The end is coming for plastic grocery bags, straws and cutlery after the federal government announced today which single-use plastics will be covered by a national ban coming into effect next year.Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson unveiled the list of soon-to-be-banned items Wednesday morning at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que.As it was compiling the list, the government said it considered plastics that are harmful to the environment and hard to recycle, and whether there are readily available alternatives.The single-use plastics that will be banned are: * Grocery checkout bags * Straws * Stir sticks * Six-pack rings * Plastic cutlery * Food takeout containers made from hard-to-recycle plastics (like black plastic packaging)The regulations to introduce the ban will be finalized by the end of 2021, said Wilkinson."When a ban comes into effect, your local stores will be providing you with alternatives to these plastic products, like reusable or paper bags in place of plastic," he said."I know it is presently hard to come back from the grocery store without a single use plastic item ... You use it, you throw it in the recycling bin and more often than not, it ends up in a landfill. This has to change, which is why we'll be working with grocers and industry leaders and provinces and territories to keep more plastic in our economy through recycling."While Wilkinson emphasized the importance of reducing plastic waste, he also said the ban is only a small step."I would say to you, if you put up the number of plastic products we use, the ban is probably a fraction of ... one per cent of the products," he said.As part of its efforts to reach its goal of zero plastic waste by 2030, the federal government said it's developing new standards for other plastic items that will require them to contain a minimum amount of recycled material."What we're talking about is enhancing the rate with which we're recycling, reusing those products and keeping those materials in our economy," Wilkinson said.Watch | A more 'systemic approach' to how we make and use plastics needed, says ecologistAshley Wallis, the plastics program manager with Environmental Defence, said she's like to see more items added to the list and wants the government to set clear targets for plastic reuse and recycling. "We need to see the economy fundamentally shift away from this linear, disposable economy," she said.Changes coming for restaurantsWhen asked how small businesses — especially restaurants surviving on takeout sales during the pandemic — will handle the shift, Wilkinson said the government was careful to choose items with environmentally-friendly alternatives already on the market."We've been very sensitive to try and ensure this can be done in a very much affordable way for all businesses," he said. "I mean, most of the beer industry has already moved away from [plastic six-pack rings] and moved to hard caps on the top of them, which are recyclable "Restaurants Canada, a not-for-profit association representing Canada's food service industry, says it will keep pushing for policies that "avoid any undue burden on businesses continuing to rely on single-use items to safeguard the health and safety of staff and customers.""The COVID-19 crisis has made the critical need for single-use items very clear. Throughout the pandemic, restaurants have quickly and effectively adapted to evolving public health guidance," said spokesperson Marlee Wasser in a statement."Businesses are willing to adapt their practices and make investments to support progress toward the implementation of a Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste. But they want to ensure these investments are effective."Watch | Liberal government bans some single-use plastics to 'achieve zero plastic waste by 2030.'Paul Shufelt, a chef who owns five restaurants in Alberta, said he isn't too worried."I think it's a great initiative. I'm happy to see it," he said."Is it going to make things tougher for some? Perhaps. But I think we can all learn to live without plastic straws and those plastic grocery bags and things like that. We just have to adjust our life a little bit."Shufelt said that while the change likely will come with increased costs, he's happy to see it happen."Is this going to be the thing that breaks us? I don't think so. Is it going to cost a little more? Probably," he said."But in the grand scheme of things, I feel like this is something we can do for the greater good."Wilkinson said the ban will not include plastics used to make personal protective gear or medical waste. Report flagged wildlife concernsThe ban, which follows some local bans on single-use plastics, is happening under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, which required a scientific assessment of the problem first.That assessment report, released in January, said that in 2016, 29,000 tonnes of plastic garbage — the equivalent of about 2.3 billion single-use plastic water bottles — ended up as litter in Canada on beaches, in parks, in lakes and even in the air.The report looked at the impact of all types of plastics and pointed to evidence that macroplastics — pieces bigger than 5 mm — are hurting wildlife.Watch | 'We are not leading the world in this'Dead birds have been found with plastic in their intestines, whales have washed up on shore with stomachs full of plastic (including flip flops and nylon ropes). In one case cited by the study, an emaciated turtle was found with plastic in its digestive tract.The evidence was less clear about the harmful impacts of ingesting microplastics for people and wildlife, and the scientists recommended further study. At the time, Wilkinson said the evidence on the effects of macroplastics was enough to go ahead with the ban.
Regina police and the coroner's office are investigating after the discovery of a man's body in Wascana Park Tuesday morning.A police spokesperson says a call came in just before 7 a.m. CST about a man lying motionless on the ground.His body was found near Lakeshore Drive, between Avenue B and Avenue C, which is close to the Holodomor memorial.Paramedics confirmed he was dead. There is no word yet on what caused the man's death.Police say the man has been identified and his next of kin have been notified. They have not released his name.Police are asking anyone with information to contact the Regina Police Service at 306-777-6500 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
An artificial ice rink in Dufferin Grove Park is slated to be updated and replaced despite an outcry from local residents who say they need the outdoor public space now more than ever this winter.The city says it has consulted the community, done an assessment on the condition of the rink and completed the tender process for the renovation work. It has yet to award a contract but says Dufferin Grove Park artificial ice rink will not be open for use this winter."In order to maintain this facility in a state of good condition, the rink and equipment must be replaced imminently," the city said in an email to CBC Toronto this week."A condition assessment of the rink itself was completed, and indicated that since it is at the end of its 25-year life cycle, there is a realistic chance of equipment failure." Ian Merringer, a resident who lives near the park, said the timing could not be worse, given that the city is in the middle of a pandemic, and residents don't believe the rink is in a state of disrepair. Merringer said he has been taking his family to the rink for the past 12 years. The rink has two pads, one usually used for pleasure skating, with the other usually used for shinny, and the frozen surfaces are some of the busiest in the city."This has been the heart of the community every winter," Merringer said."Where are people going to go to have the release, the escape that they need, or the exercise, or just the bare social interaction?"In an email, Merringer said: "Skaters come from all over the west end to glide across the ice, night and day. There is an innovative skate rental system and an always open café. Any night of the winter you can see neighbourhood kids whizzing around, new skaters trying to keep their feet from flying out from under them and hockey players on the shinny rink dividing up sticks to start new games."According to Merringer, residents were told that construction was supposed to start soon after last year's skating season. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that work didn't get underway.Merringer said he thinks it makes more sense to wait until next spring to start the rebuild."There's nothing to say that it couldn't serve this community for another three, maybe four months."He said dozens of residents have written letters to the city, asking for a stay of demolition of a few months so the skating pads could be a place people can exercise and socialize during a winter when options for doing either inside will likely be limited due to the pandemic.According to the city, if work on the rink replacement begins this year, the work will be completed before the 2021-2022 skating season. But if the work is delayed until March 2021, the rink will not be completed in time for it to open for next year's season.The city said staff will create and maintain a natural ice rink at the location beginning in January, weather permitting.Coun. Ana Bailao, who represents Ward 9-Davenport, said there is no question that the rink needs to be replaced."There's two reports that say that rink shouldn't even be operational anymore," she said.Bailao said she has pushed her staff to examine every option, but at the end of the day, there are just too many safety risks to reopen the rink."There are professionals here at the city that are engineers, that review those reports, I am not an engineer, I have to rely on the information and the safety parameters and concerns that staff put in front of us," she said.Merringer, however, has said he has also read those reports and doesn't believe the safety risk is as great as the city is suggesting."The health risk is having this closed, not having it open."WATCH | CBC's Greg Ross reports on Dufferin Grove Park artificial ice rink:
The Saskatchewan Health Authority is once again notifying the public that people who tested positive for COVID-19 were at various businesses in several communities while they were likely infected. These latest alerts include businesses in Regina, Prince Albert, Saskatoon, Estevan and Harris, and come a day after a lengthy list of exposure alerts for Regina, Prince Albert, Dafoe, Stornoway and Yorton. The health authority says further exposures took place at the following locations during the following dates and times. Estevan: * Affinity Credit Union, Sept. 28 to Oct. 1, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Oct. 2, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. * Estevan Leisure Centre, Sept. 29 and Oct. 1, 6:20 to 6:50 p.m. * Tap House Restaurant, 1128 4 St., Oct. 1, 7:30 to 8 p.m. * Sobey's, 440 King St., Oct. 1, 5 to 5:45 p.m. Harris: * Prairie Centre Credit Union, Oct. 2, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.Prince Albert: * Prince Albert Gospel Outreach Church, 921 Central Ave., Sept. 14 to Oct. 4, 7:30 p.m. 11 p.m.Regina: * Regina International Airport, Oct. 1, 10 to 10:30 a.m. * Air Canada Delhi to Toronto Flight AC43, Seat 12E, Oct.1, 12:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. * Air Canada Toronto to Regina Flight AC7939, Seat 20C, Oct. 1, 8:45 a.m. to 10:02 a.m.Saskatoon: * Hotel Inn and Suites, 253 Willis Cresc. S., from Sept. 28 at 4 p.m. to Sept. 30 at 10:30 a.m. * Mucho Burrito, 3020 Preston Ave. S., Sept. 28, from 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.The health authority advises any people who were at these locations on the specified dates and times to immediately self-isolate if they have had, or currently have, symptoms of COVID-19. They should call HealthLine 811 to book a testing. Anyone who was at the any of the above locations but is not experiencing symptoms should self-monitor for 14 days.
Edmonton Public Schools will ask the province to suspend diploma exams for high school students in the 2020-21 academic year, the board agreed unanimously at a meeting Tuesday. Board trustees said requiring students to take the provincially-administered tests would add pressure to an already stressful learning environment in the COVID-19 pandemic. Trustee Shelagh Dunn suggested the move in a motion Tuesday. Even though the province aims to return to near-normal learning, Dunn said this year is nowhere near that. "I believe it's unhealthy to act as if things are normal when they aren't," Dunn said when presenting the motion. "It could be a recipe for fatigue, exhaustion and burn out." Dunn noted the potentially complicated situation of students and staff needing to self-isolate during exam time. "We need to find a way to relieve some of the pressure and stress within the system and focus on mental health and well-being," Dunn said. The diploma exams are given to assess a student's achievement level in core Grade 12 courses and ensure province-wide achievement standards, the government website says. The standardized test, usually offered five times a year, was cancelled in March when the pandemic started. They've also been cancelled during catastrophes like the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire and the flooding in Calgary in 2013. Board Chair Trisha Estabrooks noted a few health concerns in proceeding with diploma exams. With nearly 30 per cent of students learning online, it's still unclear how the province would administer the tests, normally given in large groups in gymnasiums. Estabrooks pointed out that students opting to learn from home are doing so to cut out the potential exposure a classroom environment might present. "To ask them to come in and write a mandatory diploma exam in person, is going against the very choice that truly is the strength of our re-entry plan," Estabrooks said. Estabrooks also mentioned the added stress and effects on mental health for both staff and students. Return to regular Colin Aitchison, press secretary for Education Minister Adriana LaGrange, said a majority of parents indicated they wanted to keep diploma exams in the school re-entry plan. "We heard very clearly that parents wanted a return to regular assessment for their children," Aitchison said in an email to CBC News Tuesday. Aitchison referenced a survey by Alberta School Councils' Association that found nearly 65 per cent of parents favoured a return to regular assessments. "That said, we are always exploring options to make this return to in-person learning as smooth as possible and we will make adjustments to the school re-entry plan as required," he added. But Estabrooks noted that that survey was done in May. "I think that survey was a moment of time and certainly that reflected the sentiments of parents across the province," Estabrooks said during a video news conference. "A lot has happened since May," she added. Estabrooks said the province hasn't presented a plan to accommodate on-line learners during the exams. Aitchison said school divisions are responsible for administering the exams and coordinating with their students and families. Trustees agreed school grades this year would be difficult to compare to previous years. "I think we can all agree that the marks that are awarded this year need to come with a disclaimer," Estabrooks said. The EPSB motion includes asking the province to postpone provincial achievement tests, given to students in junior high. But Aitchison said administering PATs is optional this year as outlined in Alberta's school re-entry plan so individual school authorities have the ability to decide if they will administer PATs. As chair of the board, Estabrooks will send a letter to the minister of education and copy the Alberta School Boards Association and the Public School Boards' Association of Alberta.
OC Transpo hopes to start changing the mask habits of some of its riders with a two-week project it's calling "operation mask up." "We heard about ... some people not wearing their masks," said James Babe, chief special constable with OC Transpo. "[We decided] to move to the next phase, which is warnings."The transit agency has had a mandatory mask rule since mid June, and while most people are wearing masks, Babe said OC Transpo has been getting complaints that some people are not following rules.While OC Transpo bus and train operators will continue to let all customers aboard — masked or not — special constables will travel across the transit system and speak with customers who aren't wearing a mask starting Friday, says a city news release sent Tuesday.Those constables will remind mask-less riders to wear one. For those people who continue go disobey the policy, constables could give them a written warning under the city's temporary mask bylaw, and will give them a disposable mask, said the city. Special constables may also ask customers to not enter stations without a mask.And if people are wearing a mask but not properly, like just on the chin, constables will remind them about proper use, said Babe.Won't ask for proof of medical exemptionOC Transpo says it will keep in mind medical conditions and disabilities that may exempt some people from wearing a mask. Those people won't be issued warnings, the city said. Young children will also be exempt."Let's be COVID-kind," Babe said. "If you see someone without a mask, there may be reasons for that." Babe said conversations about exemptions will be done "in private." "We're not going to ask for proof. I mean, we're going to take them at face value. We're going to trust our customers, that they're being honest with us," he said. The city said its bylaw officers have been laying charges since Sept. 17, and enforcement "could be an eventual next step for transit customers."Babe said OC Transpo will start looking at fining people if it finds "a lot of non-compliance" during the two weeks."[The written warning] gives us some tracking," explained Babe. "If we're dealing with the same person multiple times, it gives us an indication. And if we do move to issuing the fines down the line, in the future, it certainly gives the track record."
Recent developments:What's the latest?Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is reporting 117 new COVID-19 cases as testing delays continue. Currently, OPH is able to get test results to residents within 48 hours just 15 per cent of the time.Like Ottawa, western Quebec also recorded its second-highest one-day total of newly confirmed cases on Wednesday with 49.WATCH LIVE | Quebec premier, health officials to give 3 p.m. ET update:Outbreaks in Ottawa's long-term care homes are on the rise again despite the lessons learned during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. WATCH | Daughter says it's been hard to get information:How many cases are there?As of the most recent Ottawa Public Health (OPH) update on Wednesday, 4,970 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19.That includes 810 known active cases, 3,865 resolved cases and 295 deaths.Overall, public health officials have reported more than 7,500 cases of COVID-19 across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, with nearly 6,000 of those cases considered resolved.COVID-19 has killed 104 people in the region outside Ottawa: 52 people have died in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark counties, 34 in the Outaouais and 18 in other parts of eastern Ontario. What's open and closed?Health officials are telling people to see fewer people in person, or stricter rules will force them to.Ontario is telling people to limit close contact only to those living in their own household or one other home if people live alone.Ottawa's medical officer of health said late last week the entire health-care system is on the verge of collapse and is advising people to celebrate Thanksgiving only with members of their immediate household. Other areas with different COVID-19 situations may have different advice from their health units.Visits to long-term care homes in Ottawa are restricted to essential visitors and one caregiver at a time as of today.People who refuse to wear a mask on OC Transpo buses and trains without a valid reason will get a written warning as part of a two-week blitz starting Friday.Western Quebec's health authority says residents need to stop gathering until the end of October or, like Montreal and Quebec, people won't be allowed to see anyone they don't live with.The region is currently on orange alert, which means private and organized gathering limits, earlier closing hours for restaurants and recommendations against travelling to other regions.What about schools?There have been more than 150 schools in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region with a confirmed case of COVID-19:Few have had outbreaks, which are declared by a health unit in Ontario when there's a reasonable chance someone who has tested positive caught COVID-19 during a school activity.Ontario updated its COVID-19 school symptom rules last week.Distancing and isolatingThe novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes or speaks onto someone or something.People can be contagious without symptoms.This means people should take precautions like working from home, keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean, socializing outdoors as much as possible and maintaining distance from anyone you don't live with — even when you have a mask on.Masks are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec and recommended outdoors when people can't stay the proper distance from others.Anyone with symptoms should self-isolate, so should anyone told to by a public health unit. If Ottawans don't, they face a fine of up to $5,000 per day in court.Kingston's medical officer of health said people living with someone waiting for a test result now do not need to self-isolate and someone with COVID-19 now has to isolate for at least 10 days from the day they first experience symptoms, down from 14 days.Most people with a confirmed COVID-19 case in Quebec can end their self-isolation after 10 days under certain conditions.Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible. Anyone who has travelled recently outside Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days.What are the symptoms of COVID-19?COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and the loss of taste or smell. Less common symptoms include chills, headaches and pink eye. Children can develop a rash.Getting tested any sooner than five days after potential exposure may not be useful since the virus may not yet be detectable, says OPH.If you have severe symptoms, call 911.Where to get testedIn eastern Ontario:The Ontario government recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, or if you've been told to by your health unit or the province because of your work.Anyone seeking a test there should now book an appointment. Most of Ottawa's testing happens at four permanent sites, with additional mobile sites wherever demand is particularly high.There is limited walk-up capacity and telephone booking for some sites for people without internet access and priority groups such as health-care workers.Its Coventry Road clinic will be closed on Monday.People without symptoms, but who are part of the province's targeted testing strategy, can make an appointment at select Ottawa pharmacies.In the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, the Limoges drive-thru centre reopens today but isn't ready to take appointments until Friday.The health unit also has sites in Alexandria, Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Rockland and Winchester. All are closed on Monday.In Kingston, the city's test site is now at the Beechgrove Complex and online booking isn't available yet. For now, people are asked to go to the complex to make an appointment.Napanee's test centre is open daily for people who call ahead.People can arrange a test in Bancroft and Picton by calling the centre or Belleville and Trenton online.The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls. It also has a pop-up site in Gananoque Thursday.Renfrew County residents should call their family doctor. Those without access to a family doctor can call 1-844-727-6404 for a test or if they have health questions, COVID-19-related or not.People can also visit the health unit's website to find out where testing clinics will be taking place each week.In western Quebec:Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau seven days a week at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 avenue Buckingham.They can now check the approximate wait time for the Saint-Raymond site.There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Gracefield, Val-des-Monts and Fort-Coulonge.They can call 1-877-644-4545 if they have other questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby.Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms or who have been in contact with someone with symptoms. People without symptoms can also get a test.First Nations, Inuit and Métis:Akwesasne has a mobile COVID-19 test site available by appointment only.Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who's been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.Inuit in Ottawa can also call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.People in Pikwakanagan can book an appointment for a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-2259. Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603 to talk to a nurse.For more information
It was disappointing for Mohamed Khashaba that his son Yahia wouldn't begin Grade 1 this year on P.E.I."School here for him will be great," Khashaba said. "Two years ago, his mother is trying to teach him little of English, just preparing him, [so] when he come here in Canada, he will not be shocked."Instead, his son remains in Damietta, Egypt, with his mother Sara Saad. While Khashaba and his son are Canadian citizens, his wife of eight years is not."By the time he was born in Egypt, I was already a Canadian here," Khashaba said. "So he got his citizenship certificate but the thing is — how can he travel without his mother? Like we are a package — a family together."In March 2019, Khashaba applied for his wife to join him in Canada through the immigration process for spouses. Neither Saad nor their son, Yahia, has been to Canada before.The last time Khashaba was able to see them in person was during a visit to Egypt in November 2019.According to the federal Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website, an application of this nature should take about 12 months.In a written statement to the CBC News on Aug.18, the department said the global pandemic "has resulted in unprecedented challenges at the border.""The health and safety of people who use the immigration system and staff remains a top priority," the statement said. IRCC officials said they continue to accept and process applications during the pandemic "notwithstanding that our operational capacity remains at a limited capacity both domestically and abroad."On Sept. 24, the department announced it was increasing the number of decision makers on spousal applications in Canada by 66 per cent. The plan is to use new technologies to allow staff working from home to deal with the complicated documents keeping privacy and security in mind.> Our government will continue to find new ways to keep families together. — Minister of Immigration Marco Mendicino"We understand that the last few months have not been easy for those who are far from their loved ones in these difficult times," said Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco Mendicino in the statement."This is why we are accelerating the approval of spousal applications as much as possible. Our government will continue to find new ways to keep families together."The plan is to work through the backlog at a higher speed, with the goal of having almost 50,000 decisions made by the end of the year.Movement for changeOther Canadians are facing similar extended wait times. During the pandemic, a grassroots movement rose up called the Spousal Sponsorship Advocates.Misha Pelletier, one of the organizers, is waiting for updates on her husband's application from Tunisia. Their application went out in July 2019."We are trying to come up with solutions in order for our files to be treated in a timely manner," Pelletier said."And one of those solutions would be a special temporary visa, which would give access to having our spouses with us while our sponsorships are being processed."Pelletier said members have been trying to obtain temporary resident visas but applications are denied based on article 179b of the immigration and refugee protection regulations — a section that states one of the conditions for granting a temporary visa is that the officer must believe the applicant will leave the country once it has expired."Why would somebody put at risk a permanent residency because they're visiting their spouse?" Pelletier asked."I mean, who wants to work in the black market all their life when they can receive a permanent residency?"The group organized rallies in different major centres in the country including Montreal and Edmonton. A petition with over 6,000 signatures was tabled in the House of Commons.Another online petition had over 16,000 signatures at the beginning of October.The group has written letters to the government and has an active online presence to get the word out to politicians and other Canadians.> There is babies being born and fathers seeing their children through FaceTime. — Misha Pelletier, Spousal Sponsorship AdvocatesPelletier said it has been a challenge for many families who can only communicate through video conferencing."I must say that this is not the way a relationship should be, on a screen," she said. "There is babies being born and fathers seeing their children through FaceTime."Pelletier said the group is pleased to see the government working to deal with the backlog and reunite families but said there are still many barriers in place.A line of communication has opened between the minister's office and the advocacy group, Pelletier said, and they are hopeful that will lead to change.'I need my family'Khashaba said the government's effort to work through more applications hasn't changed the fact that his family has been waiting for 19 months since they first applied.He said his wife applied for a temporary resident visa in early September so they could see each another in person for the first time in nearly a year.The application was denied — because of article 179b — leaving the family to continue waiting for the federal government to work through spousal sponsorship applications.Khashaba, his wife and son talk through video calls every day, he said, but it's not the same as being together in person."It means actually, emotionally, I am complete," Khashaba said. "I need my family, I cannot do it any longer alone."More from CBC P.E.I.
Canada's highest court ruled from the bench today that a law passed by the Liberal government to diversify juries is constitutional.The Supreme Court of Canada heard a case involving Pardeep Chouhan, a Greater Toronto Area man charged with first degree murder, who argued the changes to jury selection infringed on his rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.Bill-C-75 — An Act to Amend the Criminal Code — came into effect on Sept. 19, 2019. The legislation modified the jury selection procedure under the Criminal Code by eliminating the right of Crown and defence to make "peremptory challenges" — to object to a proposed juror without stating a reason.Former Liberal justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould introduced the changes following public outrage over the 2018 trial of Gerald Stanley, a white Saskatchewan farmer who was acquitted of second-degree murder in the shooting death of 22-year-old Indigenous man Colten Boushie.During the jury selection process for Stanley's trial, all visibly Indigenous candidates were challenged and excluded by Stanley's defence team through peremptory challenges.No one will ever know if the trial might have ended differently without peremptory challenges — but Boushie's family lawyer Eleanore Sunchild said eliminating them might have eliminated the perception of bias."It was really disheartening to see every Indigenous juror be challenged and know that they were being challenged simply because they were Indigenous," Sunchild said."I say it's a step back to allow peremptory challenges to stay. It's a step back from eliminating discrimination. There can be no justification for discrimination based on race. None."Had the high court opted to overturn the changes to the law, Indigenous people across the country would again be weeded out of jury selection — with significant consequences for Indigenous people in the criminal justice system — said Toronto-based lawyer Caitlyn Kasper of Aboriginal Legal Services, an intervener arguing in favour of Bill C-75. "It really bars our full participation in the justice system," she said."We have quantifiable real numbers to show that Indigenous people are not being chosen, that they're not being selected. And that it is regardless of what role we're playing through that process."Peremptory challenges necessary, defence lawyer arguesBut others argued the changes to the law undermined an accused person's right to a fair trial."Accused persons are often marginalized or racialized people, and they often have people in society who are unwilling to give them a fair shot," said Dirk Derstine, Chouhan's defence lawyer."I am sympathetic, of course, to the evidence [of discrimination] against Indigenous people, but this is not a situation that is of Mr. Chouhan's making. If Mr. Chouhan needs these in order to be able to get a fair trial, then we say the government should have invented a different way to end any practices which they say were very bad against Native people."Associations representing Asian, Black and Muslim lawyers intervened in the case, insisting that the abolishment of peremptory challenges specifically affects accused people of colour because they cannot keep people with perceived biases off their juries.Prior to the jury selection process in his trial and before Bill C-75 came into force, Chouhan brought a constitutional challenge to the Criminal Code amendments. Chouhan also argued the amendments should not apply retroactively, but the top court ruled it has retrospective application.The Ontario Superior Court of Justice dismissed the constitutional challenge. The loss meant Chouhan's jury was formed according to the new law. He was found guilty by a jury of first degree murder in the 2016 shooting death of co-worker Maninder Sandhu.The Ontario Court of Appeal unanimously upheld the legislation, but ruled the elimination of peremptory challenges should not apply retroactively to all pending cases because it affects an accused's right to trial by jury. The appeal court found the amendment should not have applied to the selection process in Chouhan's case and concluded that the jury was improperly selected. Chouhan's conviction was overturned and a new trial was ordered for fall 2021.The Crown appealed the Court of Appeal's decision and Chouhan cross-appealed on the issue of the constitutional validity of the Criminal Code amendments.Ottawa-based criminal defence lawyer Leo Russomanno calls the jury selection process in Stanley's trial an outlier."It's our experience, as criminal defence lawyers, that way more often than not, peremptory challenges are used to increase the diversity of juries," said Russomanno, a board member of Defence Counsel Association of Ottawa, which intervened in the case. In a statement to CBC News, Justice Minister and Attorney General David Lametti's office said Canadians must be confident that juries reflect the communities they serve."Through former Bill C-75, our government made important changes to the jury selection process, including addressing longstanding and well-documented concerns that racialized Canadians were being unfairly excluded by the previous process," said the statement from Lametti's office.
Thousands of families with children signed up for virtual learning with the Toronto District School Board still have not been assigned to their classes, leaving many disillusioned with the board's ability to properly manage the new school year.The TDSB officially started its new virtual school classes on Sept. 22 after multiple delays. The board says that about 97 per cent of the approximately 78,000 virtual school students have been assigned to a class, which suggests that more than 2,000 Toronto students will miss at least two weeks of instruction.Reshma Mathur's two children, in Grades 5 and 8, were among the students left hanging during the delay until they were assigned to classes on Sunday."I think the uncertainty and the lack of communication has been very challenging," Mathur said."We've known about this pandemic since March, so the assumption was that the TDSB was planning and preparing for this situation," she added.Parent Kate Fox-Whyte said the board did not communicate with her family during the two-week period before her daughter was assigned to a class."We just really didn't know what was going on and so it was incredibly stressful," she said.Fox-Whyte's daughter Ivy, entering Grade 2, was devastated after missing the original start date."Ivy cried that morning," Fox-Whyte said. "She wanted to be back in school; they wanted to be with their friends."Other parents who endured delays have raised concerns with the quality of virtual teaching.Classes have been riddled with "lots of confusion, lots of technical difficulties," said Mary Dooley, who has children in senior kindergarten and Grade 2.She said her daughter Sadie's Grade 2 class is consistently falling below the provincially mandated standard of 225 minutes per day of synchronous, or real time, instruction. Dooley said her daughter's class has been receiving between 60 and 120 minutes of synchronous learning per day.Surging enrolment, teacher resignationsThe TDSB has attributed the delays and ongoing struggles in virtual school, which has its own dedicated principals and teachers, primarily to the massive number of students who opted for exclusively online learning this year.Enrolment at the school has steadily grown since the board first revealed its back-to-school plans in late summer. There are an estimated 78,000 students enrolled at the school now, a figure expected to grow by about 4,000 students after Thanksgiving.Board spokesperson Ryan Bird said the fluctuating enrolment numbers have made it difficult to adequately staff the school. He said other factors, including the resignation of some teachers from the virtual school, have also contributed to the delays."While we have had months since the pandemic began to begin preparing, staff only began three, four weeks ago," Bird told CBC Toronto. "We couldn't begin that process until we had our final registration numbers."Bird said work is happening "morning through night" to accommodate students still without a class. The TDSB plans to reassign teachers currently working at physical schools.The board says it expects that all students in its English stream will be assigned to a class by next week. "We have tried our absolute best to give exact dates," Bird cautioned. "And as you know, it hasn't worked out."Students in French immersion and Extended French may be assigned to an English teacher on an interim basis, due to what the board describes as a province-wide shortage of French teachers.
Tourists in Mexico's top Caribbean resort Cancun picked their way through battered streets, broken glass and trees downed by Hurricane Delta on Wednesday, though damage was less severe than some feared as the storm tore across the Yucatan peninsula. Delta lost force before it reached land.
Families, workers and health-care advocates are wondering how outbreaks in Ottawa's long-term care homes continue to grow, despite the lessons learned during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. "We've been really shocked and appalled by what's going on," said Natalie Mehra, the executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition. "The measures that needed to be put in place — a clear plan, systematic intervention, getting staff into the long-term care homes — just hasn't happened." Once a care home finds one or two cases, that's the time to bring in extra infection control, isolate patients and test quickly, according to Mehra. "None of those things happened in Ottawa," she said of the recent outbreaks.As of Tuesday, 10 of the city's long-term care homes were on Ottawa Public Health's outbreak list. A home is added to that list if it has one or more cases of COVID-19. Half of those homes are run by Extendicare, including West End Villa where at least 130 residents and staff have been infected since Aug. 30.No break from COVID-19So far Jerry O'Brien, a resident of West End Villa, does not have COVID-19, but 83 fellow residents have tested positive, 19 have died and the home is still waiting for the results of 33 tests. "I don't understand why the numbers are still going up," said Sharon O'Brien, Jerry's wife. "I think they're desperately understaffed."During this outbreak at West End Villa, 47 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19."One of the real issues is burnout," said Miranda Ferrier, president of the Ontario Personal Support Workers Association. "We did not have a break from the first [wave of] COVID. We're dealing with a burnt-out workforce. They're going to make mistakes."Staff members at West End Villa tell CBC that during the outbreak, the home has relied on workers from outside agencies. Agency staff go from 'home to home'While the province said employees of long-term care homes could only work in one facility, this directive does not actually apply to agency workers. "Agency staff going from home to home, it is definitely happening," said Ontario Health Coalition's Mehra, and she questions if this is the potential cause of spread throughout the Extendicare homes in Ottawa.In an effort to hang on to the staff members they have, Extendicare is currently paying all its workers time and a half and putting up workers in hotels at the company's expense."We have hired new employees and brought staff in from other areas of the province to replace those sidelined by COVID-19," said Extendicare communications in an email to CBC.'They're cutting corners'At Laurier Manor, another Ottawa Extendicare home, 25 residents died of COVID-19 during an outbreak in the spring. The home is currently in its second outbreak, with 13 residents and seven staff testing positive for COVID-19 since Sept. 1. The Ottawa Hospital has taken over management there, as well as West End Villa.Provincial reports show that inspectors were inside Laurier Manor in May, June and July after complaints. Issues raised included infection control and prevention, the treatment of a COVID-19 patient and staff not properly wearing masks. WATCH | Suzanne Zagallai says it's hard to get information from West End Villa:"If you look at the inspection reports, it's really bad ... It's because they're short staffed there. They're cutting corners and as soon as they do that, they're going to spread infection," said Patricia Spindel with Seniors for Social Action Ontario.But Extendicare said it has enhanced infection prevention control policies for all its homes. In the spring, new directives from the province stated that incoming residents must be "placed in a room with no more than one other resident."But in many of the older homes it will take some time to reach the goal."That's definitely an ongoing issue," said Ferrier with Ontario Personal Support Workers Association. "These homes were built in the day when four beds to a room worked, now it does not. They may not be accepting any new people into the home, but they still have the ones that are still there." Testing backlogLong-term care homes in Ottawa are also having issues with COVID-19 testing."Families are reporting it took days to get tests for their loved ones even in shared rooms with people that were showing symptoms of COVID-19. That should never have happened," said Mehra. Extendicare notes that the testing backlog is a problem."Delays in test results mean delays in accurate cohorting and delays in sending staff home to isolate, leading to greater risk of spread in the meantime," said Extendicare communications.Sharon O'Brien now waits for her own negative test so she can soon become a caregiver to her husband.At West End Villa, managers hold weekly video conferences for families, but O'Brien says she needs to see for herself what conditions are like inside. "It's kind of like talking to politicians," said O'Brien of the video meetings. "Sort of feeling you're not getting a straight answer."
Cheap land may be driving a proliferation of grow-ops in rural eastern Ontario, one that's seen Ontario Provincial Police charge dozens of people and seize tens of millions of dollars of illegal cannabis in just over two months.In that time, the region's seen 18 drug busts that have led to 126 people arrested on charges that they illegally grew cannabis.Nearly 59,000 plants were seized in the busts — an approximate street value of at least $70 million — along with hundreds of kilograms of processed cannabis, guns, cash and production equipment.Police estimate each plant is worth between $1,200 and $1,400. The raids took place between July 29 and Oct. 2, at mostly rural addresses within a few hundred kilometres of Ottawa.Strange goings-onAt one mid-September bust of a large outdoor operation in McArthurs Mills, Ont., midway between Bancroft, Ont., and Renfrew, Ont., OPP charged 26 people with growing more than 4,000 cannabis plants and possession for the purpose of selling.Most said they were from the Greater Toronto Area. Officers also seized 16 rifles, some of them semi-automatic.Another raid took place at a stately farm on Townline Road in Rideau Lakes Township.On Sept. 25, OPP seized 6,500 plants being grown both indoors and outdoors, a high-end sport utility vehicle, generators and a variety of growing equipment.An aerial photograph taken by police showed a sprawling outdoor cannabis plantation at the rear of the property.CBC visited some of the farms and spoke to neighbours who said they were aware of something strange happening."It was bizarre, because very frequently we could hear all-terrain vehicles over there," said Krista Duff, who lives close to the Townline Road grow-op.Duff said in the spring, the family that had lived there as long as she could remember put the property on the market, along with about 35 hectares of land, for $650,000.The farm sold quickly, Duff said, and it wasn't long before she sensed big things happening next door. She said her family could hear a constant drone, which they guessed to be generators, along with steady ATV traffic to the property's rear.Duff still hadn't met her new neighbours when one day, OPP aircraft began circling overhead and at least seven police cruisers raced up the neighbours' driveway.WATCH | An unknowing grow-op neighbour:Weed on the windCBC News also visited a farm near Lombardy, Ont., nearly two weeks after OPP raided a vast grow-op there, making arrests, seizing plants and equipment and calling in Hydro One to cut power.On the afternoon of CBC's visit, a gasoline generator still blared from the farmhouse garage and clothes hung to dry from a makeshift rope secured to a railing.Neighbour Melissa Dodge said she'd smelled cannabis drifting across the yard and over to her property, which raised her suspicions.Dodge works at Tweed, the legal cannabis production facility in Smiths Falls, Ont., and said there was no mistaking the aroma."I have to say, it started to smell pretty pungent by late summer," Dodge said.About 10 kilometres away on Whitmore Road, Jacob Kerr soon noticed that the new owners of a farm property abutting his had started building an "absurdly huge" greenhouse.A title search revealed the 27-hectare farm was purchased March 2 by a numbered company based in Markham, Ont, that had been created just two months earlier. Two days after the sale, the $200,000 mortgage was paid off. But by Sept. 25, OPP had swept in, arresting seven people and seizing more than 2,000 plants, a pickup truck, a backhoe and growing equipment.Kerr said he watched as township's dump trucks hauled away hundreds of kilograms of cannabis plants."It was kind of comical. You were starting to notice branches of the exposed product flying out, " he said.A title search also revealed that another drug bust property, just one kilometre from the Whitmore Road bust, had also changed hands last December.The $345,000 mortgage was paid off in just nine days.Organized crime involved?Police declined CBC's request for an interview, but one expert who's studied east Asian gangs in British Columbia's Lower Mainland says the scale and sophistication of the operations suggests it was the work of organized crime.Almost all of the people charged in the busts have east Asian names. "It's highly likely that these are Chinese investors who've also installed some caretakers," said Simon Fraser University criminologist Robert Gordon."There is a lot of mobile capital flowing from the People's Republic of China."Gordon said the closure of international borders due to COVID-19 and the opening of legal cannabis markets in Canada has created new profitability concerns for illegal growers.Legalization has disrupted established patterns of illicit production, Gordon said, and Chinese organized crime is likely tapping into remote, relatively affordable rural farms in eastern Ontario as a means to keep production costs low."There's been a great disturbance in the force that cannot be underestimated," he said.
A minor hockey league in Gatineau is putting its season on hold for the next two weeks because of COVID-19.The Aylmer Minor Hockey Association said it's suspending all hockey operations Tuesday, after learning of an outbreak of COVID-19 among participants in a hockey league for adults. "Since many of our volunteer coaches play in this league and in order to protect our young players, their parents and our volunteers, it is with regret that the Aylmer Minor Hockey Association has decided to stop all hockey activities," the league wrote in a Facebook post. The association said the suspension is for activities scheduled until Oct. 20.Two volunteer coaches in the association have also tested positive, the league said.The suspension affects just under a thousand young players at a variety of levels who play for the Aylmer Mariniers.Arena closuresThe decision — announced the same day as a record 66 new COVID-19 cases in western Quebec — follows the one-night closure of two arenas in the Gatineau area days ago.The City of Gatineau said in a press release Friday that it was temporarily closing the Frank-Robinson and Paul-et-Isabelle-Duchesnay arenas in Aylmer for extra cleaning, after users of the arena tested positive for the virus. Activities resumed the next day.Aylmer Minor Hockey Association's suspension of hockey means Janelle Wright's son's hockey season is on pause."My son is sad that hockey is not going to be going for the next couple of weeks," said Wright, whose 13-year-old plays for the Bantam AA team. "He was really excited about hockey restarting, really excited about making the team. But he understands at the same time that the health of people is more important than hockey."Wright said the league is doing everything it can to keep people safe with precautions at the rink, including masks in dressing rooms, sanitization protocols and extra cleaning.But it doesn't surprise her that cases have popped up among people in the hockey community."I always had in the back of my head that this was a possibility and a probability that people would be going to the arenas and eventually there would be cases showing up," she said.