LONDON — Buckingham Palace said Wednesday it was launching an investigation after a newspaper reported that a former aide had made a bullying allegation against the Duchess of Sussex. The Times of London reported allegations that the duchess drove out two personal assistants and left staff feeling “humiliated.” It said an official complaint was made by Jason Knauf, then the communications secretary to Meghan and her husband, Prince Harry. He now works for Harry’s elder brother, Prince William. The palace said it was “clearly very concerned” about the allegations. It said in a statement that the palace human resources team “will look into the circumstances outlined in the article” and would seek to speak to current and former staff. “The Royal Household has had a Dignity at Work policy in place for a number of years and does not and will not tolerate bullying or harassment in the workplace,” it said. American actress Meghan Markle, a former star of the TV legal drama “Suits,” married Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, at Windsor Castle in May 2018. Their son, Archie, was born the following year. In early 2020, Meghan and Harry announced they were quitting royal duties and moving to North America, citing what they said were the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media. They recently bought a house in Santa Barbara, California, and are expecting a second child. The bullying allegations were reported four days before the scheduled broadcast of an Oprah Winfrey interview with Meghan, which is anticipated to draw a huge audience. It also comes less than two weeks after the palace announced that the couple’s split from official duties would be final. A spokesman for the duchess said she was “saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself and is deeply committed to supporting those who have experienced pain and trauma.” In a 30-second clip released by CBS Wednesday night, Winfrey asks Meghan how she feels about the palace “hearing you speak your truth today?” “I don't know how they could expect that after all of this time we would still just be silent if there was an active role that the firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us,” Markle says. “And if that comes with risk of losing things, I mean, there's been a lot that's been lost already.” The Associated Press
Pembroke – A 21-year-old Bonnechere Valley man is back home after he was granted bail following his arrest last Thursday in relation to large objects left on local roads over a five-month period, among them a hot water tank left on Highway 17 in the middle of the night endangering the lives of unsuspecting motorists. Despite the strong objections of the Renfrew County Crown Attorney’s Office citing reckless behaviour putting at risk the lives of people travelling along the highway, Joshua Patrick Boyce was allowed to return home after his mother was appointed Surety along with posting a $500 bond. He was arrested last Thursday afternoon by members of the Crime Unit of the Upper Ottawa Valley Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). A long with other local OPP Detachments in the area, police originally charged him with two counts of mischief endangering life; theft under $5,000 and possession of property obtained by crime under $5,000. After his arrest, police laid three additional charges of mischief endangering life. The investigation began on October 1st, 2020 after police received numerous complaints of debris on roadways. The main roadway where this debris was located was on Highway 17 from the Olmstead-Jeffrey intersection east of Cobden, to the pull off lanes just east of B-Line Rd in Laurentian Valley. He is also accused of willfully leaving items on some other area roads endangering the lives of motorists. Beginning in early October it is alleged Mr. Boyce was involved with placing pylons on Pembroke St. E. near the 148 Highway. Along with Mr. Boyce, Annie Immel and Brent Ethier are said to have seen pylons on Cecilia St near LifeLabs, took them, and placed them on the Highway 148 west-bound turn off at Pembroke St E. across the lane so no car could drive through. It is alleged they then parked at the Esso gas station to watch what vehicles would do with the pylons on the road. After some of the vehicles started to drive off into the ditch to get around the pylons, Ms. Immel went out and removed the pylons before an accident occurred. Then, it is alleged Mr. Boyce and Ms. Immel returned to Pembroke St E near the small hill by Old Mill Rd. where the speed limit changes from 60km/h to 80km/h. They placed pylons across the road in the lanes near that location, but as they were unable to find a place to sit and watch the vehicles avoid the pylons, they removed them shortly after placing them there. On January 8, Mr. Boyce and three others are accused of placing numerous stones across the lanes of Highway 17 near Olmstead-Jeffrey Rd. causing vehicles to swerve to avoid the stones, with two vehicles hitting the stones, causing damage to the vehicles. On February 7, it is alleged Mr. Boyce and Ryan Fitzgerald were driving late at night on Round Lake Rd near Doran Rd. when Mr. Boyce left the vehicle and walked to the rear of the building coming back to the car with 4 black metal tire rims and put them in the rear seat area of the vehicle. The men proceeded to drive on Highway 17 towards Cobden and while en route, Mr. Boyce is alleged to have attempted to push out the tire rims onto the highway and Mr. Fitzgerald became upset and pulled off the highway. Mr. Boyce is said to have grabbed the ignition keys and placed the four tire rims onto the highway in the lanes despite Mr. Fitzgerald’s objections. A third incident on February 9 linking Mr. Boyce to the highway debris involved a hot water tank and water softener tank that had been left on the shoulder of the road at the intersection of B-line and Highway 17. Over the course of five months numerous other debris was placed along Highway 17 during the night hours. These caused many motorists to swerve and some caused damage to their vehicles. As a result, many people became hypervigilant and nervous to drive the highway due to the debris being found. History of Criminal Activity Mr. Boyce is also identified as a person of interest related to other criminal activities prior to the placement of objects on the highway. Based on interviews with some of those involved, it is alleged Mr. Boyce and some companions were driving through Pembroke in the early hours of May 24 when they began discharging fireworks at various locations. One of the locations was near 385 Mackay Street, and it is alleged Mr. Boyce had lit a firework and threw it over the car towards a residence. The firework ignited causing a fire. The Pembroke Fire Department responded and quickly contained the blaze. One occupant of the home escaped without injury and damages are in excess of $14,000. Police have also linked Mr. Boyce to a shed fire in an apartment fire located at 9 Bennett Street in Pembroke. The fire began shortly after six o’clock in the morning on December 26th, where it alleged Mr. Boyce and another individual started the fire which resulted in complete structural loss of the shed, with an estimated value of approximately, $20,000.00. On January 30th, an individual was being interviewed on another investigation. During the interview, the individual stated that Mr. Boyce had told him that he and Braden Baumhour started the shed fire because they were bored. The two men were charged with arson. When he appeared for his bail hearing last Friday at the Ontario Court of Justice in Pembroke, the Crown argued against his release, citing the numerous crimes linked to Mr. Boyce. Despite the Crown’s objections, Justice of the Peace Jocelyne St. Jean granted the accused bail with strict conditions and he is to remain at his Eganville home until his next appearance. Bruce McIntyre, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
South Algonquin Township just completed the public consultation survey phase for its Community Safety and Well Being Plan, which is due to be submitted to the provincial government by July 1. Coordinated by Dr. Meara Sullivan, the survey found that employment, COVID-19, healthcare and affordable housing were residents’ biggest concerns. On the plus side, 95 per cent of respondents felt safe within their respective communities. In a media release from Dr. Sullivan on Feb. 23, the results of the community consultation survey in South Algonquin were made public. The municipal councils of the townships of Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan, Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards, Madawaska Valley and South Algonquin decided to work collaboratively with Dr. Sullivan to come up with a CSWB plan, and Dr. Sullivan also administered surveys to those municipalities for their input. The survey ran from Oct. 5 to Nov. 30, 2020. Available in hardcopy and online through Survey Monkey, 305 local residents from all the townships participated. Eighty-one people participated from South Algonquin, or 7.4 per cent of its population of 1,096. Dr. Sullivan is a community and restorative justice specialist with over 20 years experience in her field. Her experience led her to be hired by the seven municipalities of North Hastings in 2019 to help them to come up with their own CSWB programs. This tenure helping the municipalities in North Hastings led her to be hired by South Algonquin, Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan, Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards, and Madawaska Valley, as well as her teaching experience in Community, Safety and Well-Being at Loyalist College. Within South Algonquin, survey respondents had an average age of 55 to 64 years, 75 per cent were female, 92 per cent were white/Caucasian, 75 per cent had a post secondary education, 68 per cent were permanent residents, 90 per cent lived in a home they owned, and 9 per cent said they experienced home insecurity or homelessness in the past year. The good news was that 95 per cent of respondents always or often felt safe in their community, while a strong sense of community and sense of belonging was felt by 57 per cent. While employment at 33 per cent, COVID-19 at 27 per cent, affordable housing at 23 per cent, and healthcare access at 18 per cent were listed as the greatest concerns and the services needed in the area, the greatest community strengths were hailed as nature at 73 per cent, peace/quiet at 60 per cent, small town/rural life at 56 per cent and peace/quiet. It wasn’t a surprise that 75 per cent of respondents reported that COVID-19 had brought higher levels of stress, and 47 per cent reported that the ongoing pandemic had greatly impacted their work and family life. Dr. Sullivan completed the data analysis and the final report, and says that the results give significant insights into the views of the 305 local area residents. “The sample is comprised of individuals who volunteered to participate and is not intended to represent the overall population. However, every resident has a unique voice and each is equally important,” she says. Now in its final phase, the CSWB planning information will be compiled into a regional plan. The final plan will be sent to the Solicitor General and shared with the community by July 1. Dr. Sullivan says that their information gathering process has finished, which included a local service providers’ survey, the community consultation survey, meetings with local agencies and advisors, attendance at round tables on physical and mental health, collecting statistical and previous reports data, and one on one discussions with community members. “In order to be responsive to the immediate needs of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have to be flexible in our planning. At this point, in order to meet the deadline, set by the province, I am compiling all the available information into the final plan,” she says. “I will be reaching out to our advisors throughout this process to ensure the final plan meets the needs of the individuals that are at the greatest risk.” Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times
By the end of March, Indigenous Services Canada should have received a letter from Sawridge affiliate members (SAM) requesting a new band be created for them. They “would like to split away” from the Sawridge Indian Band (SIB). Ceno Loyie-Clark, who is leading the charge, says SAM have never been allowed full membership in SIB. “I’ve been standing on the gate for 30 years,” said Loyie-Clark. “There’s 475 of us on the edge. None of us have ever lived there.” Loyie-Clark, like the others, are registered Indians affiliated with the Sawridge First Nation located in northern Alberta, but they are not included on SIB’s membership list. SIB has about 45 members. Membership in SIB became an issue back in 1985 when Bill C-31 was passed. That bill amended the Indian Act to, among other things, allow the status of Indian women, and that of their children, to be reinstated after it was lost when marrying non-Indian men. At that time, then-chief Walter Twinn had built a band-owned business empire as a result of oil and gas discovered on Sawridge land. Two trust funds were created to control the band’s income and two days before Bill C-31 was passed, Twinn locked the band’s assets in those trust funds. Court documents in 2019 estimated those funds to be in excess of $140 million. In numerous court cases since 1985, Twinn and SIB argued they were not opposed to the women and their children regaining Indian status, but that they would not be told by the government who was a member of their band. To that end, SIB used Sect. 10 of the Indian Act, which states “a band may assume control of its own membership if it establishes membership rules…” to create its membership list. It’s the same argument SIB has used to exclude people who received Indian status under Bill S-3. That amendment to the Indian Act addressed the inequities of how Indian status is passed on, or not passed on, to cousins in the same family or to children born out of wedlock to Indian women. With SIB determining its own membership criteria, Loyie-Clark says his hand was forced. Despite his mother being a first cousin to Walter Twinn, Loyie-Clark is still not a full member of the band. Although he admits, he was “never that stupid” to try and get his band membership. To become a member is a lengthy, impossible process, he says, which involves “knowing who lived in your home when you were a baby,” and includes other detailed information like employment, medical and legal histories. “The government allowed (SIB) to set up the racist band application process that goes against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the government has allowed this to go on for 35 years,” he said. Since SIB won’t accept the affiliate members as full members, Loyie-Clark says more than 70 SAMs will be asking ISC to utilize Sect. 17 of the Indian Act, which allows the minister to constitute new bands “from existing Band Lists, or from the Indian Register, if requested to do so by persons proposing to form the new bands.” “The minister may let us have some of the land (on Sawridge First Nation) because there’s two chunks of land that nobody’s living on, but we’re never going to get any of the money,” said Loyie-Clark. “We’re not going to ask for any of the money or for land. There’s enough land in northern Alberta.” It’s Loyie-Clark’s intention to implement an Indigenous lease transformation program that he designed “for me and my cousins” that makes use of depleted oilfield leases. Loyie-Clark says the timing is right for such a venture. Last year the federal government committed $1.7 billion to Alberta, BC and Saskatchewan for orphan well clean up and site reclamation. As far as Loyie-Clark is concerned, these sites don’t belong to any existing band as part of any traditional territory. However, Sect. 17 of the Indian Act states, “Where … a new band has been established from an existing band or any part thereof, such portion of the reserve lands and funds of the existing band as the Minister determines shall be held for the use and benefit of the new band.” “They would have to carve out space for themselves within the confines of that piece of land. That’s the only jurisdiction the federal minister has. Otherwise the province of Alberta has jurisdiction over the land outside the reserve,” said Rob Louie, who at the request of Loyie-Clark is supporting SAM’s endeavours. Louie is president of Band Members Alliance and Advocacy Association of Canada (BMAAAC), a newly created organization that offers its services free of charge to band members who have concerns about alleged unethical behaviour of leadership. “The affiliate members do not need legal representation to form their own band as this is a political matter that will be resolved in the political arena,” said Louie. However, BMAAAC is supporting SAM’s efforts with legal research and Louie will be setting up Zoom calls for tripartite negotiations between SAM, the federal government, and SIB. “We are throwing our full support behind those 400-plus affiliate Sawridge members so that they, too, may form their own band and become masters in their own house. Currently, they are living in a two-tier membership system: have and have-not. And the 400-plus affiliate members of Sawridge have not seen any benefit, whereas 42 regular members have,” said Louie. Should SAM be successful in forming its own band, benefits will include core funding from Indigenous Services Canada and eligibility for grants other First Nations have access to, including money for coronavirus pandemic measures, says Louie. The best case scenario would see negotiations taking one to two years, he adds. “Because we’re not dealing with a lot of people and because the terms and conditions of the new band aren’t that onerous—basically they’re just saying we want a clean break—there’ll just be an issue about the amount of land, the quantity of the property of reserve land that would form under the new band,” said Louie. The process will only be completed once a vote is held and the majority agrees to the separation terms. That is not something current Sawridge Chief Roland Twinn anticipates happening, “because you have to give up a part of your reserve.” “I don’t know what the Indian Act says about (the vote) because there is clearly a difference between membership and affiliation and when it comes to referendums it’s the membership not the affiliation that votes on referendums, as I understand it,” said Twinn. Twinn says membership sits at around 45 and “it’s been a couple of years” since a member was accepted. In information on the five steps of forming a band, as outlined on the ISC website, it is noted “most new bands have come into being from a band division. Some have involved both status and non-status Indians, following the general rule that registered members are the majority.” Twinn told Windspeaker.com that he was unaware of SAM’s intention to approach ISC to create a new band. Louie says Twinn has not yet been officially notified. However, Loyie-Clark says he has been talking “unofficially” about his plan to people living on reserve “because they’re all my cousins.” Loyie-Clark says he is initiating this action now as a form of reconciliation and “repairing the relationship.” It’s something he would like to see be done “pleasantly.” “It’s terribly unjust what’s going on…so let’s do this peacefully. Otherwise we’re going to be fighting… At the end we may end up with absolutely nothing and we don’ have a (First Nation) …. This is supposed to be for the future generations not just us,” said Loyie-Clark. Windspeaker.com By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
The top public health officials in Southwestern Ontario pulled in hundreds of thousands in overtime pay last year for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic. At least two of the region’s medical officers of health received more than $100,000 each in overtime, including Middlesex-London’s top public health doctor, Chris Mackie, and Haldimand-Norfolk’s Shanker Nesathurai. The overtime pay is part of a provincial program to compensate local health units for extraordinary expenses incurred relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. “It was one of the initiatives set up by the province to recognize some of the frontline healthcare workers,” said London city councillor Maureen Cassidy, who chairs the Middlesex-London board of health. “They’ve asked us to keep a tally of all the overtime hours and the dollars for every one of our employees who have worked overtime directly related to the COVID-19 response," she said. Between March 22 and Nov. 14 of last year, the health unit had 47 staff log overtime ranging from 44 to 716 hours. The global pandemic was declared in mid-March. Mackie, the London area's medical officer of health, logged 611 overtime hours during that period, earning a payout of $100,072. His base salary in 2019 was $300,000. “That reflects the leader of an organization that has gone from five days a week, 8:30 to 4:30, to seven days a week, 8:30 until some days, 10 at night,” Cassidy said about the overtime pay. The total staff overtime spending at the Middlesex-London Health Unit was $730,000. Cassidy said public health staff are making “incredible sacrifices” in their personal lives while battling the pandemic. As Haldimand-Norfolk’s medical officer of health, Nesathurai logged 1,100 overtime hours, worth $160,000, on top of a base salary of $240,000. Joyce Lock, the medical officer of health for Oxford and Elgin counties, received just more than $62,000 in overtime pay “for hours worked over and above the regular schedule as well as unused vacation,” according to Larry Martin, Southwestern Public Health’s board chairperson. “The Ministry of Health has provided provincial health units with clear guidelines for allowable COVID-19 expenditures eligible for reimbursement,” Martin said in a statement. “(Lock’s) employment contract . . . allows for overtime payments in specific circumstances – such as those that have unfolded over the course of what is now a year-long pandemic response.” Lock’s salary in 2019 was $288,000. The base salaries of medical officers of health are paid by local health boards based on member municipalities' professional salary scale and benefits policies. Whether an individual medical officer of health is eligible for overtime pay, and how they're compensated, depends on each board’s contract and municipal policies. In Ontario, overtime is paid at 1.5 times the regular pay rate. Most managers and supervisors, usually paid a salary rather than by the hour, aren't typically paid overtime. “In September 2020, public health units were provided with an opportunity to request additional one-time funding from the ministry for COVID-19 extraordinary costs incurred,” Anna Miller, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, said in an email. “Examples of eligible COVID-19 extraordinary costs included overtime for staff if local board of health policies related to overtime allowed for this.” Meanwhile, Lambton’s medical officer of health, Sudit Ranade, did not receive any overtime pay as the County of Lambton’s overtime policy sees employees take time off in lieu. Shari Sterling, executive assistant for Lambton County’s public health services, said Ranade has “some banked hours” but did not specify how many. Lambton submitted $848,429 to the province for reimbursement for COVID-19 extraordinary costs, including staff salaries, accommodation, supplies, equipment and communications. Health units in Huron-Perth, Chatham-Kent, Windsor-Essex and Grey-Bruce did not immediately respond to Free Press requests about overtime expenses during the pandemic for medical officers of health and other staff. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation slammed the overtime pay. “Ontarians hand over nearly half – 45 per cent – of their household income to governments every year in taxes, yet we're still a province struggling with hallway healthcare and chronic problems in long-term care,” said Jasmine Moulton, the federation’s Ontario director. “Then you see governments handing out six-figure top-ups and seven-figure severances to top health officials, and you start to see where the problem truly lies." Moulton said 355,300 Ontarians lost their jobs last year amid the pandemic. “This story is further proof that we're not all in this together." email@example.com Twitter.com/MaxatLFPress Max Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
A promotional photo and video shoot was produced at McGeachie Trails in Limerick Township on Feb. 27 to highlight the trails’ suitability for various winter sports for residents and tourists alike, and to promote economic development. The photo and video materials, focusing on cross country skiing and snowshoeing, were produced by Hastings Destination Trails Inc. with a grant from the Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization, in cooperation with Hastings County. It is set to be used to promote McGeachie Trails after the pandemic has subsided, likely for the 2021/2022 winter season. According to HDTI’s Cathy Trimble, the organization had received a $2,500 digital marketing grant from the OHTO recently, and decided to do a photo and video shoot to market McGeachie Trails as a winter tourist destination for the 2021/2022 winter season. Luisa Sorrentino is the marketing coordinator for economic development and tourism with Hastings County, and emphasizes that the photos and video will not be used to publicize McGeachie Trails this year, due to COVID-19, but will be used to do so next year for the 2021/2022 winter season. “So, we are not promoting the area this time during COVID-19. We are all local within Hastings County. We’re wearing masks and we’re doing everything according to protocol,” she says. While there was an uptick in local tourism to the area in 2020, with some businesses seeing a 30 per cent increase in revenues, Sorrentino wants to prepare for when the pandemic is behind us and tourism from other parts of Ontario, Canada and the world can start to resume. “We’ve been busy helping businesses survive and pivot during COVID-19, and also to be ready with services when [COVID-19] ends and tourists come back to the area,” she says. To that end, HDTI and Hastings County highlighted the trails’ suitability to use for cross country skiing and for snowshoeing. They had Clive Emery, the owner and operator of Trips and Trails Adventure Outfitting (tripsandtrails.ca), and an avid skier and sportsman, to teach a handful of people how to cross-country ski on the trails and take them on a short journey for the video. Trimble confirmed that Emery was there that morning teaching skiing fundamentals and that the photo and video shoot went well. “He was the instructor and supported us with equipment for the event. They [his students] were novice cross country skiers and they really enjoyed themselves. Clive just showed them the ropes and they went for a short ski,” she says. Bernie Hogan was also there that afternoon to teach a small group of people how to snowshoe for the afternoon’s video segment and to take them on a brief snowshoeing excursion. They were the Card family; Meredith, Shayne and son Maxwell, and Rick Cassidy and Mary Ann Pierce. An award-winning long-distance runner and snowshoe racer, Hogan is also the athlete ambassador for northern Ontario with Snowshoe Canada (snowshoecanada.ca/contact). He works at CP Rail as a track maintenance technician. He’s been snowshoeing since he was a kid, but took up snowshoe racing a few years ago to keep his conditioning for running in place over the winter. Racing snowshoes are smaller and lighter than traditional snowshoes. “I started getting injured running in the snow, so I was looking for a different kind of sport and found it with snowshoe racing,” he says. Hogan has seen more people on snowshoes this winter than he did last year, and says it’s even hard to buy snowshoes at all as they’re selling out. Grooming the trails that day was Don Stoneman, a retired editor and journalist, director of Canoe Kayak Ontario and an avid canoeist. He used his specialized extra wide track snowmobile and its grooming attachment. “It was a bit of a challenge as the snow was so wet, so I just packed it down with the snowmobile. I’ll track it when it gets a bit colder,” he says. The cross-country skiing and snowshoeing were captured for posterity that day by local photographer Emily Musclow (emilymaeannphotography.com) and local videographer Erica Tripp (ericasorensonmedia.ca). Tripp, who recently moved back to Gilmour from British Columbia, captured the action along the trail with her digital video camera and her gimbal, which is a camera mount that uses three motors within the mount to compensate for unwanted movements and keep the camera steady. “The weather was pretty interesting this morning. It was a bit of a challenge shooting with the snow, but we made it work,” she says. Overall, the photo and video shoot went great that day and Trimble and Sorrentino were happy with the results. “The idea is for people, not during COVID-19 but next year, to come up here as tourists or even if they buy a place up here,” says Sorrentino. “They want to be able to have opportunities to go out and live an active lifestyle and try new experiences, something they’ve never done before, like snowshoeing or skiing.” Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times
Pembroke -- The Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) is counting on ultra-fast gig internet in the region and has submitted an ambitious proposal to the federal and provincial government for funding for a $1.6 billion project. “A regional project is the best approach,” Renfrew County Warden Debbie Robinson noted on Monday morning following the submission of the proposal. “A county project alone would be hugely expensive.” The project would use a competitive process to choose a telecommunications partner and maximize coverage across the region. In this massive undertaking, EORN seeks to fund the $1.2 to $1.6 billion project through a combination of funding, with $200 million each from the federal and provincial governments and the remainder from the Canada Infrastructure Bank and the private sector. The timing is right according to the proponents, who are supported not only by the Eastern Ontario Warden’s Caucus, where Warden Robinson serves as chair, but also the Eastern Ontario Mayor’s Caucus and represent some 1.2 million people in the region. “Every day we hear from our constituents about their frustrations with poor or limited high-speed broadband services,” a letter from Eastern Ontario wardens and mayors stated. “A co-ordinated, comprehensive regional project for the 113 municipalities of Eastern Ontario is the best way to address the challenge of getting the region from 65 per cent coverage with access to even 50/10 speeds to 95 per cent coverage.” Right now, both the federal and provincial governments are investing in broadband. The federal government established the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) and the Government of Ontario created the Improving Connectivity in Ontario (ICON) fund. Both funds focus on local projects. EORN is seeking support through a flexible use of these programs, or any other appropriate funding streams. “We appreciate how committed both governments have been to improving broadband access,” said Warden Robinson, in her role as chair of the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus (EOWC). “We all share the same goals, and we look forward to working together on a solution that is both comprehensive and cost-effective.” Delivering Gig service generally involves a fibre optic or cable connection to the home or business. The EORN Gig Project leverages previous investments in infrastructure and services. This includes a fibre 2 optic backbone and other infrastructure across the region built to handle the speed and capacity of the Gig project. EORN anticipates it could provide up to 95 per cent of the region or more than 550,000 premises with Gig service by 2025-2026 if fully funded. The County of Renfrew has had huge success in the past with EORN projects bringing broadband to the area but recently there has been some concern the province is looking at individual areas to develop their own projects instead of having this more regional approach which has worked so well. Last Wednesday at Renfrew County council there was some discussion on having a Renfrew County plan and developing a local plan to bring in broadband. Warden Robinson noted the collaborative approach and regional approach through EORN is the best way to bring broadband to the area, but there still needs to be a back up plan. “We are going to look at a broadband strategy for the county in conjunction with what is happening here,” she said. “You don’t want to put all your hopes on one project.” Warden Robinson said while there is funding available from the provincial and federal government, EORN is looking for a provider to work with. The goal is to have the same reliable broadband service people in the larger cities take for granted. Having a regional project also means broadband would be delivered in areas where people actually live and work in Eastern Ontario and not just where the telecom providers decide to invest. “A patchwork process in the area would be telecom providers building out from existing infrastructure,” she said. That strategy means areas with little or spotty coverage might not see much improvement. In Renfrew County there are still areas with no access to reliable broadband. For anyone trying to work from home, participate in a virtual meeting or access the internet the way people in more built-up urban areas take for granted, the poor connectivity is very frustrating, she said. With a prevalence of ZOOM or virtual meetings for the last year, the importance of reliable broadband has been highlighted, the warden added. “On Wednesday, during county council even my internet connection at the county was showing up as unstable,” she said, noting she was in the County of Renfrew building just outside Pembroke. “You can’t conduct business like that.” The COVID-19 pandemic has forced people to work from home or spend more time at home. As well, students are learning from home and people are moving to rural areas. All this has made the need for faster broadband all the more urgent. “We can grow, but not without decent broadband,” Warden Robinson said. “If we have that here, the growth would be incredible.” Speed is an issue and that is why this Gig project is being pursued. Instead of going for slightly faster speeds, the goal is to fix the system with the speed required not just in 2021 but for years to come. “Speed is important and even people who think they have good broadband discover it is not as good as they thought,” she said. “So why not fix the problem now for the long term?” EORN covers all of Eastern Ontario and is currently working on a $213 million project, funded by the public and private sector to improve and expand cellular services across the region. From 2010 to 2014, EORN helped improve broadband in Eastern Ontario with a $175 million public-p Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — A woman in southern Alberta is accused of murdering her former common-law husband by running him down with a pickup truck. Lethbridge police say 30-year-old Austin James Forsyth was struck by a yellow Dodge Ram in the city on June 1, 2020, and died later in hospital. Police say the pickup fled the scene. Officers arrested Melissa Whitegrass on Tuesday following an investigation by the Violent Crimes Unit. The 37-year-old is charged with first-degree murder, dangerous driving causing death, and assault with a weapon. "The accused and Mr. Forsyth were involved in a common-law relationship up until 2017 at which point they obviously became separated," Insp. Jason Walper said Wednesday at a news conference. "Our investigators deemed that this was a domestic violence situation." Whitegrass has been remanded in custody and is to appear in court on Tuesday. -- With a file from LethbridgeNewsNow This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021 The Canadian Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. There are 875,559 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 875,559 confirmed cases (29,930 active, 823,524 resolved, 22,105 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 2,812 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 78.75 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 20,365 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,909. There were 60 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 299 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 43. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.11 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 58.16 per 100,000 people. There have been 24,676,396 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 997 confirmed cases (153 active, 838 resolved, six deaths). There were three new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 29.3 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 35 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is five. There were zero new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.03 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.15 per 100,000 people. There have been 199,347 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 137 confirmed cases (22 active, 115 resolved, zero deaths). There was one new case Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 13.78 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 20 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 107,377 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,646 confirmed cases (30 active, 1,551 resolved, 65 deaths). There were three new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 3.06 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 30 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.64 per 100,000 people. There have been 343,260 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,438 confirmed cases (38 active, 1,372 resolved, 28 deaths). There were three new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 4.86 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There were zero new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of two new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.04 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 3.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 238,399 tests completed. _ Quebec: 289,670 confirmed cases (7,336 active, 271,908 resolved, 10,426 deaths). There were 729 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 85.56 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,198 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 743. There were 19 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 81 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 121.59 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,320,910 tests completed. _ Ontario: 303,763 confirmed cases (10,397 active, 286,352 resolved, 7,014 deaths). There were 958 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 70.56 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 7,590 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,084. There were 17 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 121 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 17. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 47.6 per 100,000 people. There have been 10,964,481 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 32,000 confirmed cases (1,146 active, 29,953 resolved, 901 deaths). There were 50 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 83.09 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 413 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 59. There were three new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 14 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.15 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 65.32 per 100,000 people. There have been 535,163 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 29,059 confirmed cases (1,431 active, 27,239 resolved, 389 deaths). There were 121 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 121.41 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,079 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 154. There were two new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 10 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is one. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33 per 100,000 people. There have been 579,326 tests completed. _ Alberta: 134,454 confirmed cases (4,649 active, 127,903 resolved, 1,902 deaths). There were 402 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 105.14 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,421 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 346. There were 12 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 36 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 43.01 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,414,903 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 81,909 confirmed cases (4,718 active, 75,819 resolved, 1,372 deaths). There were 542 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 91.65 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,559 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 508. There were seven new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 34 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.09 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 26.65 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,941,589 tests completed. _ Yukon: 72 confirmed cases (zero active, 71 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.38 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,183 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 42 confirmed cases (two active, 40 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 4.43 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 14,664 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 359 confirmed cases (eight active, 350 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 20.33 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of eight new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,718 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
When the Hilton Garden Inn Fredericton was opened in 2018, the expectation was its rooms would be packed every spring and summer with thousands of convention attendees from across the country. But, for the second year in a row, it looks like the COVID-19 pandemic has put a stop to that. With restrictions on travel and gatherings continuing for the foreseeable future, that's put a chill on large national and regional conventions, and that's a cause for concern to Celine Bertin, general manager at the Hilton Garden Inn. "April, May, June, are big convention months, however, August is probably one of the biggest convention months, along with September, October and very much November as well. "So with that said, we're a convention hotel and a corporate hotel... so, yeah, [there being no conventions] does affect us in a big way." Bertin said the hotel's plan hinged so much on catering to convention attendees, that its was located next door and attached to the Fredericton Convention Centre. "If there wasn't a convention centre, frankly, we wouldn't be downtown." Trevor Morgan, general manager of the Crowne Plaza in Fredericton.(Submitted by Joanne Barlow) The Crowne Plaza is directly across the street from the centre, and typically hosts convention attendees in its rooms and at its pub and restaurant. That won't be happening this year, and that worries Trevor Morgan, its general manager. "The bottom line is we won't be able to replace that revenue, so we do anticipate running significantly lower revenue and occupancy through that period because of the lack of that business," Morgan said. More help needed for businesses The likely loss of the 2021 convention season is just the latest blow to an industry already particularly hard hit by the pandemic, said Carol Alderdice, president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick. Carol Alderdice, president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick.(Submitted by Carol Alderdice) "It makes such a big difference to hotels and restaurants when conventions are in town. It keeps them busy and it keeps them alive, and that's just not been happening. "That's why we've had to count on federal support to keep them going." Alderdice said that aid has been well used, but more is needed. She said the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, which provides up to 75 per cent of employee wages for eligible employers, should be extended to the fall, and raised to cover 85 per cent. She also wants to see an extension to the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, which helps tenants pay the rent if their business or non-profit has lost revenue due to the pandemic. In a media briefing Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said those two programs, which were originally set to end next week, will be extended to June. CBC News did not receive a response from the Prime Minister's Office about whether it would also increase the pay-outs offered under those programs. Hopeful for recovery The Fredericton Convention Centre accommodated 34,000 convention attendees and generated an estimated $12.9 million for the local economy in 2019. Instead of convention-goers, for 2021 the convention centre will be hosting lawyers, plaintiffs and defendants, as the Department of Justice has agreed to rent the space to act as the Fredericton Court of Queen's Bench to allow enough space for physical distancing. The Fredericton Convention Centre on Queen Street.(Daniel McHardie/CBC) While the agreement has softened the blow for the convention centre, Cathy Pugh, its general manager, said the loss of the season is hard on the industry. "We were the first hit, the hardest hit, and it will take us the longest to recover," Pugh said. "But we are hopeful that we will start to recover. It will take a couple of years. We'll start seeing groups coming back in 2022 and then hopefully in 2023 it will continue on the upswing, and we're hopeful that we will return in 2024 to pre-pandemic numbers or thereabouts." Jeremy Trevors, a spokesperson for the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture, said convention activities related to catering and meeting facilities typically account for about $30 million in revenue generated in New Brunswick annually, while another $80 million is earned in room bookings related to conventions. Trevors said the department hopes bookings for small meetings will re-emerge in the late spring, but that remains contingent on COVID-19 public health protocols, which will dictate what can and can't be done. "We look forward to working with the New Brunswick Hotel Association and destination marketing organizations to plan recovery for this area of business," he said.
The shelter system in Edmonton may evolve as early as this summer, as agencies and the city prepare to close COVID-19 emergency shelters. Representatives from the Mustard Seed, Bissell Centre, Boyle Street Services and Homeward Trust joined council's community and public services committee meeting Wednesday to give their input on how they envision future services. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many emergency facilities have been open around the clock — unlike the past practice of inviting clients in overnight and then forcing them out of the facility at 6 a.m. Dean Kurpjuweit, executive director of the Mustard Seed, is one of many advocating for 24/7 facilities. "Having a place for people to go all day makes a major impact on the work we can do with them to help them get housed," Kurpjuweit told the committee. Smaller venues around the city and longer operating hours, he argues, allow social workers to engage with clients and help them find longer-term housing solutions. "You hear their story, you hear where they're at, you hear their needs, you hear their concerns." The shift in approach is on the minds of agencies, city councillors and officials, as temporary facilities wind down and they look for alternative temporary spaces. The agencies jointly run Tipinawaw at the Edmonton Convention Centre, which consistently has 300 full beds. The Mustard Seed also runs a southside shelter of about 50 beds at Cessco off 99th Street, and Hope Mission runs the temporary shelter at the Commonwealth Stadium with about 120 beds. During the pandemic, the Alberta government invested $10 million for shelter and short-term housing spaces in Edmonton, and $17 million for extra pandemic response, which expires the end of March. Councillors on the committee agreed to discuss standards for shelters and are expected to delve into those details at the next council meeting the week of March 15. Those talks could include ways to improve services and subsequently curb encampments before people resort to calling law enforcement. Pandemic lessons Jordan Reiniger, executive director of Boyle Street Community Services, told the committee that operations during the pandemic confirmed what agencies already suspected. "The existing shelter system isn't conducive to ending homelessness, in many cases it's prohibitive — this sort of mass congregate shelter where you can't build relationships and connect with people," Reiniger said. Reiniger pointed to other jurisdictions which have added semi-private and private options that have successfully moved clients into permanent housing options. In an informal survey at Tipinawaw, Reiniger said 75 of 83 respondents said they would prefer semi-private or private spaces. Susan McGee, CEO of Homeward Trust that oversees many housing projects in Edmonton, agreed that agencies have learned a lot in the context of the pandemic. "Physical standards that we have experienced within the case of the pandemic have resulted in clearly better services to people when they are given additional space and they are supported in having a better night sleep," McGee said. In the fall, Hope Mission is set to open its new Herb Jamieson Centre in central Edmonton, which will provide 400 beds. The city has worked with Hope Mission to come up with design changes to the facility, such as a secure storage area for larger belongings like shopping carts and bikes, laundry and more flexible sleeping areas. Christel Kjenner, the city's director of housing and homelessness, said the Alberta government is supporting a service design committee, involving Homeward Trust and the City of Edmonton, that will make recommendations on operations at Herb Jamieson. "It is not clear at this time what operational procedures such as continuous stay policies or medical services to help those with substance abuse disorders may be adopted," Kjenner told councillors. "But we'll continue to have those conversations with our partners." Dry, damp and wet Kurpjuweit said shelters can't continue to be a one-size-fits-all model. "If you want to experience a shelter that is dry or sober because you're trying to live sobriety, even though you're homeless, you need to be in a place that's safe for you," Kurpjuweit said. "The same hand if you're dealing with addictions, you need to be in a place that's safe for you." Mayor Don Iveson noted that flexibility is required to manage substance intake from shelter to more permanent housing. Existing permanent supportive housing, like Ambrose Place, provides a multi-tiered environment depending on need. "It is managed alcohol," Iveson said. "But one floor they described as wet, one floor they described as damp and one floor they described as dry — because people are on that journey and have different needs."
The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is again being accused of discrimination in how it treats migrant farm workers. Haldimand-Norfolk is already infamous in farming circles as the only jurisdiction to put a cap on how many offshore workers can quarantine together in a bunkhouse, a controversial policy upheld after a lengthy court battle last year. Now medical officer of health Dr. Shanker Nesathurai has decreed that newly arrived farm workers self-isolating in hotels cannot leave their rooms. While federal rules allow “limited and monitored outdoor time” for returning Canadian travellers staying at isolation hotels, the latest directive from the health unit confines migrant workers to their rooms for their entire 14-day quarantine. “I think any time people are treated differently than a Canadian, that’s discrimination,” said Leanne Arnal, a farm worker advocate and member of the Norfolk Seasonal Agricultural Workers Community Committee. “If we were to lock a dog in a room for 14 days — I don’t care how nice the room is — you’re going to have the police there. You’re going to have a community of upset people. So why are we keeping the farm workers in there for 14 days? Even criminals can go outside and get a fresh air break.” Nesathurai defended the new restriction as necessary to contain the more contagious variants of COVID-19. “This past summer, an outbreak among Haldimand-Norfolk’s migrant worker community led to hundreds of infected individuals, multiple hospitalizations, and a death. The Haldimand-Norfolk experience shows that some workers arrive in Canada carrying COVID-19, and this can have deadly consequences,” he said. “The risk is not theoretical. We’re trying to keep as many people safe as possible, given the resources that we have.” Nesathurai said the policy also protects other hotel guests and staff, and farm workers can take smoke breaks or get fresh air on their balcony, “if available.” Not every room has a balcony, Arnal noted, adding that all workers are tested for COVID-19 before leaving their home countries. Norfolk County Mayor Kristal Chopp said she was “perplexed” by the new rule. “As chair of the board of health, I have consistently supported Dr. Nesathurai, even when there were rules I didn’t agree with. He’s a medical professional and I am not,” Chopp said. “However, when I see rules that now are not treating the migrant workers the same as Canadians, I do start to question that, when Canadians themselves are entitled to be able to get some fresh air while they’re in quarantine.” Kevin Daniel from Trinidad and Tobago, who works at a farm in Simcoe, said he “strongly believes” the new rule discriminates against migrant workers, who cannot protest the conditions set out by the health unit due to their precarious employment status. “What they tell us to do, we have to comply with it,” he said. Daniel will be spared another quarantine because he remained in Simcoe over the winter after being unable to fly home thanks to border restrictions. But he said he is still feeling the debilitating mental effects of spending two weeks in a hotel room after a COVID-19 outbreak at his farm last November. “It was very terrible, the experience I had being locked up those 14 days,” said Daniel, who said he continues to suffer from insomnia. “I experienced it in the quarantine, and when I came out, I would be up until 3, 4 o’clock in the morning. It’s a consistent problem that I have,” he said. Daniel said allowing workers daily outdoor exercise would not alleviate the anxiety of quarantine, but it would help. Arnal helped Daniel’s employer manage that quarantine. She proposed having workers use a dedicated stairwell to safely spend time outdoors in a secluded yard. “(Nesathurai) said ‘absolutely not,’ with no reason for it,” Arnal said. “Using the variants as an excuse right now — what was his excuse in November, when there were no variants?” Nesathurai contends the health unit does not have enough staff to monitor workers’ outdoor breaks, but Chopp said the farmers themselves would pay for supervision. According to Nesathurai, the health unit has asked Ottawa “numerous times” to take over the migrant worker self-isolation program, most recently in a March 1 letter in which he warned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that federal inaction would “likely contribute to more workers becoming infected.” Arnal sees this rule as the latest in a string of questionable health unit decisions — such as issuing ID cards she considered “racial profiling” — that demonize farm workers, who she said spend most of the year in Canada and make an incalculable contribution to the national food supply and local economy. “They are not a risk, they are at risk, just like the rest of us,” she said. J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
Pembroke-- Concerns about a lack of housing for seniors and the needs of the homeless population have Renfrew County council looking at options for developing a strategy looking at new housing opportunities and solutions. The wait list for County of Renfrew housing units continues to be substantial with 964 applicants representing seniors, adults and families. As well, since the COVID-19 pandemic began 153 homeless people in the county, where the population is slightly over 100,000, have been provided with some form of assistance. “Right now, 33 of them are in hotels across our county,” Warden Debbie Robinson noted at Renfrew County council last Wednesday. “These aren’t numbers. These are people. “Are these invisible victims of the pandemic we haven’t identified yet or are we seeing the growth in a housing crisis?” she questioned. Her comments came following a presentation on a Seniors Housing Strategy presented by Ken Foulds and Scott Robertson of Re/fact Consulting. They had been hired by the county last year to do a study. “The real intent was to address senior housing and needs,” Mr. Foulds said. The consultants were looking at solutions including “outside brick-and-mortar opportunities” in the report, he said. The concern about housing for seniors is great in the county. He pointed out 20 per cent of the population is seniors. “Over the next 20 years that segment will grow to 30 per cent,” he added. All seniors are not alike and this was reflected in the presentation. He said while some are independent, others are moderately independent and the final group is heavily reliant on assistance. While the independent senior needs community supports, later it becomes more community care and finally long-term care. Mr. Roberts said the consultants did a questionnaire, had focus groups and a community round table among other initiatives to come to their findings. He said there were several findings including the fact seniors have a desire to maintain independence. “There is a lack of appropriate housing,” he added, as well as pointing out there is a demand for both housing and long-term care needs. Another area of concern is expanding services to rural areas and affordability for seniors is an issue. Five strategy directions were presented. The first was expanding suitable housing options. “Pursue greater housing flexibility with local municipalities in the Official Plan,” Mr. Foulds said. Zoning and approval practices can help in this, he said. As well, the county has a 10-year housing and homelessness plan and this can be built upon. The second strategy was improving support to enable seniors to age in place appropriately. “Maximize programs that exist out there,” he said. Expanding paramedicine initiatives would be a positive move. “One third of those on the wait list for long-term care are not considered in the severe category and could be helped to age in place,” he said. The third strategy was to increase the supply of higher-level care facilities. He said expanding care campus type options and creating slack for respite care are options as well. The fourth strategy was creating the right environment to identify and facilitate housing options. “The county can be a catalyst for development,” he said. “Continue to engage the private sector to get them involved.” The final strategy was improving seniors’ access to care and support. Mr. Foulds said having a community round table and facilitating information sharing were good steps. County councillors received the complete report on the strategy. “It has been very proactive for the county to take a leadership role in developing this strategy,” he said. “It is very forward thinking.” Warden Robinson said dealing with seniors housing it will be important to work with other groups in the county. “Facilitating the implementation involving many other groups will be essential for us,” she said. “We have this magnificent report and now we need to share it.” The reality of the aging population was not lost on her or the members of county council, she said. “There are more than 30 per cent seniors staring at you right now,” she said. It will also be important to look at the diverse needs of seniors, including the aging-at-home strategy. “The folks on the wait list that could stay at home, age at home with the right supports,” she said. Admaston/Bromley Mayor Michael Donohue said it is good to look at different ways of addressing the housing needs for seniors. “Bricks and mortar long-term care is not going to be a viable way of meeting the needs of this particular demographic,” he said. “New beds won’t meet the need.” Having this report shows the county what is possible, he added. Renfrew Reeve Peter Emon asked what the consequence would be of doing nothing about the senior housing crunch. Mr. Foulds said one result was out migration. “When people can’t get the housing and supports they need, they leave,” he said. Warden Robinson said the status quo is not an option. “Doing nothing we are just welcoming a crisis to happen,” she said. The issue of homelessness in the county has made her realize the precarious situation many people live in, she added. Knowing there are 33 people being housed in hotels across the county because they are homeless is a reminder of the crisis. “That also includes people over 65,” she pointed out. North Algona Wilberforce Mayor James Brose asked what can be done in planning policy to assist in the seniors housing crunch. “Are there specific planning policies which will encourage development to allow for more senior housing?” he asked. Mr. Foulds said ideas like allowing granny suites or second suites is a start. “Allowing an Abbey Field home – a congregate living arrangement,” he said, adding smaller lot single homes and more town houses are other ideas. As part of the Community Services report, Warden Robinson later pointed out a full report will be coming to the county about the homeless issue and showing who the people are who are homeless. “We need to have a really close look at what is happening in our communities as far as housing is concerned,” she said. “I can’t imagine where we can find homes for these folks,” she added. The report also showed there are 129 senior applicants looking for county housing, 417 adults and 418 individuals who are part of a family unit. Most seniors and adults are looking for a one-bedroom unit. Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
P.E.I.'s new Minister of Social Development and Housing Brad Trivers received a dressing down in the provincial legislature Wednesday, apologizing for remarks he made the day before where he dismissed the financial toll the pandemic has taken on young Islanders, referring to accounts of "precarious employment" among young people as "employment opportunities." Those comments came during debate on a motion introduced by the Green Party to recognize the contributions of Island youth in the province's fight against COVID-19, and to acknowledge those same youth have borne much of the "economic risks and harms related to COVID-19, as a result of inadequate wages, inconsistent paid sick leave, precarious employment and challenges obtaining gainful employment." "I have to say that, I think what we need from our elected officials is we need people who are going to support the youth, and not encourage them to be victims," Trivers said Tuesday in response to the motion. "On Prince Edward Island, I personally don't see a lot of precarious employment out there, I see a lot of employment opportunities." Trivers went on to describe growing up on a farm, working for no wages. "I wasn't making money doing that, but that was very gainful employment," he said. "Those were the type of experiences that made me the person I am today, and they made me appreciate every dollar I've earned." On Wednesday Trivers offered a short apology, saying the comments he made were "misinformed." But the Official Opposition was not satisfied with that apology. "Yesterday, the Minister of Social Development and Housing told us that he doesn't understand what precarious unemployment is and that he doesn't believe it exists in PEI," said Hannah Bell, the opposition social development critic during question period. MLA Hannah Bell, official opposition critic for social development and housing, says Islanders need to know that all cabinet ministers support the message of equality and inclusion. (Laura Meader/CBC) "He described low-wage precarious work, even unpaid work, as an opportunity for character building. He also said that we should stop pointing out the problems with precarious or low paying work, lest we make our youth victims." Bell had previously delivered a written statement to the house, describing constituents she said were struggling to work multiple low-paid jobs, raise children, pay tuition fees and make the rent. "This is what precarious employment looks like. It is unstable, poorly paid, unreliable, with few if any worker rights," said Bell. "While this may not be the experience of members of this house, it is the experience of thousands of Islanders." Asked by Opposition leader Peter Bevan-Baker whether he supported his minister's statements, Premier Dennis King said, "I don't support that statement at all. I think we're here to help Islanders, that's our job, and if we're not here to help Islanders, none of us should be in here." Minister should show 'empathy' "The Department of Social Development and Housing is a place where many marginalized Islanders seek support," said Bevan-Baker. "Do you think it's important for the cabinet minister in that portfolio to have a deep understanding of, and an empathy for the people that their department serves?" he asked the premier. The Greens also brought up previous comments Trivers has made on housing. At a committee meeting in January, before Trivers was housing minister, he said Islanders receiving rental support from the province living in substandard housing "have the freedom to choose to make their own decision about whether they stay there or not." At a meeting in October he calculated that two people earning minimum wage could buy a home, accessing a provincial funding program to make the down payment, and afford mortgage payments of $1,200 per month. "It may not be right in Charlottetown, maybe people will have to travel," he said. In question period Wednesday, Bell said anyone who was "precariously employed … can't actually qualify for a traditional mortgage." Minister hasn't shared 'life experiences' "These are very serious issues," Trivers said in the legislature Wednesday. "We're all learning, we're all growing and the comments I made yesterday, when I say they were uninformed, it's simply because I haven't shared the life experiences of people who were impacted in that way in many cases and I will freely admit that." At one point during the session Trivers committed to creating a rental registry to track rental rates on P.E.I., something the Opposition has been asking for. After question period, Bell said the point of questioning Trivers about his comments was to get him to acknowledge there are problems with issues like wages, employment and sick leave benefits. "Premier King needs to have his cabinet ministers on board" with the vision of equality and economic security delivered in last week's throne speech, Bell said. "Trivers' comments show a pretty huge gap. It makes it hard for Islanders to know what to believe, and who to trust."
Ontario’s education minister is facing criticism for the relatively small number of students and teachers tested for COVID-19 in schools. But Stephen Lecce is defending the government’s plan, saying that testing simply can’t be forced on those who don’t want it. Travis Dhanraj reports.
JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi’s largest city is still struggling with water problems more than two weeks after winter storms and freezing weather ravaged the system in Jackson, knocking out water for drinking and making it impossible for many to even flush their toilets. Residents in the city of 160,000 are still being warned to boil any water that does come out of the faucets. “I pray it comes back on,” Jackson resident Nita Smith said. “I’m not sure how much more of this we can take.” Smith has had no water at home for nearly three weeks. Smith is concerned about her mother who has diabetes. Her mother and most of the other older people on her street don’t drive, so Smith has been helping them get water to clean themselves and flush their toilets. A key focus of city crews is filling the system's water tanks to an optimal level. But, public works director Charles Williams said Wednesday that fish, tree limbs and other debris have clogged screens where water moves from a reservoir into a treatment plant. That caused pressure to drop for the entire water system. “Today was not a good day for us,” Williams said. He said about a fourth of Jackson's customers remained without running water. That is more than 10,000 connections, with most serving multiple people. City officials on Wednesday continued distributing water for flushing toilets at several pick-up points. But they're giving no specific timeline for resolving problems. Workers continue to fix dozens of water main breaks and leaks. The crisis has taken a toll on businesses. Jeff Good is co-owner of three Jackson restaurants, and two of them remained closed Wednesday. In a Facebook update, Good said the businesses have insurance, but he’s concerned about his employees. “We will not be financially ruined,” Good wrote. “The spirits of our team members are my biggest concern. A true malaise and depression is setting in." Mississippi's capital city is not alone in water problems. More than two weeks have passed since the cold wave shut down the main power grid in Texas, leaving millions in freezing homes, causing about 50 deaths and disabling thousands of public water systems serving those millions. Four public water systems in Texas remained out of commission Wednesday, affecting 456 customers, and 225 systems still have 135,299 customers boiling their tap water, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Also, 208 of the state’s 254 counties are still reporting public water system issues. Bonnie Bishop, 68, and her husband, Mike, 63, have been without water at their Jackson home for 14 days. Both have health problems. She's recovering after months in the hospital with the coronavirus. She's home but still in therapy to learn how to walk again and deals with neuropathy in her hands and feet. She has not been able to soak her feet in warm water, something that usually provides relief for the neuropathy, or to help her husband gather water to boil for cooking for cleaning. Mike Bishop just had elbow surgery. The first week the couple was without water, he still had staples in his arm and was hauling 5-gallon containers from his truck, his wife said. Bonnie Bishop said she told him not to strain himself, but he wouldn’t listen. They feel they have no choice. On Monday, the couple drove 25 miles (40 kilometres) to Mike’s mother’s house to do laundry. Jackson's water system has not been able to provide a sustainable flow of water throughout the city since the mid-February storms, city officials say. The system “basically crashed like a computer and now we’re trying to rebuild it,” Williams said at a recent briefing. The city's water mains are more than a century old, and its infrastructure needs went unaddressed for decades, Democratic Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba has said. “We more than likely have more than a $2 billion issue with our infrastructure,” he said. Jackson voters in 2014 approved a 1-cent local sales tax to pay for improvements to roads and water and sewer systems. On Tuesday, the city council voted to seek legislative approval for another election to double that local tax to 2 cents a dollar. Republican Gov. Tate Reeves would have to agree to letting Jackson have the tax election. “I do think it’s really important that the city of Jackson start collecting their water bill payments before they start going and asking everyone else to pony up more money,” Reeves said Tuesday. Jackson has had problems for years with its water billing system and with the quality of water. Melanie Deaver Hanlin, who was without water for 14 days, has been flushing toilets with pool water and showering at friends’ homes. She said Jackson’s water system “needs to be fixed, not patched.” “That’s the issue now — poor maintenance for far too long," Hanlin said. "And Jackson residents are paying the price.” ___ Associated Press writer Terry Wallace contributed from Dallas. Martin reported from Marietta, Georgia. Jeff Martin, Leah Willingham And Emily Wagster Pettus, The Associated Press
Wall Street slumped on Thursday and global stock markets declined after U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell repeated his pledge to keep credit flowing until Americans are back to work, rebutting investors who have openly doubted he can stick to that promise once the pandemic passes. Benchmarket U.S. Treasury yields rose toward last week's highs as Powell spoke, and the dollar hit a three-month high. With COVID-19 vaccines rolling out and the government fiscal taps open "there is good reason to think we will make more progress soon" toward the Fed's goals of maximum employment and 2% sustained inflation, Powell told a Wall Street Journal forum.
There's been a rise in the number of people believed to have one of the COVID-19 variants of concern, according to Ottawa's medical officer of health. Variants of concern are ones that can spread more easily or cause more severe infections. So far, 10 people have tested positive for one of the variants — eight with the one first identified in the U.K. and two first identified in South Africa. On Wednesday, Dr. Vera Etches said another 73 people have been identified as having a genetic indicator after initial screening — meaning they may be infected by a COVID-19 variant of concern. "These screened positives are likely to be confirmed as a variant of concern," said Etches during a virtual OPH news conference. 'We're actually treating everything as if it could be a variant of concern,' said Ottawa's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches.(CBC) The city's key indicators have also been on the rise — something Etches said is concerning. Latest wastewater data shows a significant jump at the end of February. The number of people hospitalized have gone up, as have the percentage of COVID-19 tests coming back positive. "That is the experience in other jurisdictions, that the variant does spread more quickly," she said. "It does have that potential to grow. I'm concerned." Most variants related to travel About 70 per cent of the variants of concern identified in Ottawa so far are related to either travel, someone coming into close contact with someone who travelled, or by living in the same household with someone who has the variant. Etches said the source is unknown for 30 per cent of cases, which indicates it was likely caused by community spread. It can also take weeks to determine if someone has a variant of concern because all positive samples are sent to a Public Health Ontario lab for genetic sequencing, used to determine if a sample has the variant. "We're actually treating everything as if it could be a variant of concern," said Etches.
Pembroke -- Three new cases of COVID-19 in Renfrew County and district were confirmed on Tuesday, bringing the total of confirmed cases since the pandemic began to 349. The Renfrew County District Health Unit (RCDHU) reported on Monday two individuals were in hospital in intensive care and another individual was in hospital. At that point 29 people were in isolation with confirmed cases of the virus. Last week Dr. Robert Cushman, acting medical officer of health for the RCDHU, issued a stern warning to county residents following a large number of cases identified in the Arnprior and McNab-Braeside area after a gathering in the community which saw a large number of people infected and several businesses affected. “RCD has been classified as a Green Zone for weeks now, which will likely change if cases continue to rise,” he warned. “Businesses are finally getting the chance to open again, to employ their workers, and to serve their customers delayed needs. The last thing we want to do is to jeopardize our status and clamp down yet again on the economy, or possibly implement more stringent rules in the Arnprior area.” Last Friday, the RCDHU confirmed nineindividuals that reside in the Town of Arnprior and five that reside in the Township of McNab-Braeside tested positive for COVID-19 in a period of a week. The health unit noted there were 37 high-risk contacts and six local businesses affected. According to the health unit, many of these cases attended the same social gathering, and several others are considered close contacts of those that attended the gathering. RCDHU has directed all persons and business impacted to self-monitor and/or self-isolate until exposure and risks have been assessed by the contact tracing team at RCDHU. “This will continue to be followed by further testing and investigation, which could lead to more cases over the coming days,” Dr. Cushman said. The health unit was supported by the mayors of the affected communities in asking for continued vigilance and adherence of COVID protocols among area residents. “I really encourage the residents of Arnprior to take this virus seriously and not let your guard down,” Arnprior Mayor Walter Stack said. His comments were echoed by Mayor Tom Peckett of McNab/Braeside. “With the new variants of concern spreading in other regions across Ontario, we want to ensure that we are taking all necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep our community, family and friends safe,” he said. The county currently has one long-term care home in outbreak. Miramichi Lodge in Pembroke has seen three confirmed cases of the virus. The health unit has completed 65,633 tests since the pandemic began and although almost 350 cases have been identified so far there have been zero of the more contagious variants identified in the county and district. COVID testing continues in the county with tests on Thursday in Laurentian Valley, Cobden and Deep River. Friday tests are being done in Arnprior, Horton and Barry’s Bay. Testing is done by appointment and anyone needing a test must call RCVTAC at 1-844-727-6404 to schedule a testing time. Those requiring a test are reminded to wear a face mask or covering, arrive at their scheduled time and bring their health card and proof of address. Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
VICTORIA — British Columbia wants to try and reduce shootings connected to gangs and drugs in legislation introduced today that partly focuses on the transportation of illegal firearms.Solicitor General Mike Farnworth says some of the changes in the proposed law would include penalizing drivers who transport illegal firearms, allowing for vehicles to be impounded that are used to transport illegal firearms and preventing gang members from using shooting ranges. The Firearm Violence Prevention Act would also protect social workers and health professionals from civil liability if they breach client confidentiality by reporting information to police about guns. Farnworth, who is also public safety minister, says in a statement the majority of gun owners in B.C. abide by the law and the legislation will have little impact on them.Dwayne McDonald, the RCMP’s criminal operations officer in charge of federal, investigative services and organized crime for B.C., says the bill would help police in their investigations and combat gun violence.The B.C. government says the legislation would also strengthen existing laws concerning armoured vehicles and body armour by requiring those applying for those permits allowing their use to submit their fingerprints.This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press