A Spruce Grove man confessed to his son that he suffocated the woman he'd been married to for nearly 55 years, then didn't tell anyone what had happened. Robert Joyes, 76, was originally charged with the second-degree murder of his wife Freda in May 2018. The charge was downgraded to manslaughter at a preliminary hearing and withdrawn altogether on Wednesday when Robert Joyes pleaded guilty in Edmonton's Court of Queen's Bench to neglecting a dead body by not contacting the medical examiner. He was sentenced to 18 months of house arrest by Justice Terry Clackson, as recommended by a joint submission from the Crown and defence. Robert Joyes was the primary caregiver for his 74-year-old wife who was confined to a wheelchair, had severe heart disease and suffered excruciating pain from rheumatoid arthritis and migraines that were treated by opioids. Following a surgery in 2017, she was no longer able to raise her head. Freda Joyes relied on her husband for trips to the doctor and giving her medication. She also received regular home care visits from health professionals. The couple had three sons, one of whom suffered brain damage at age one from post-meningitis complications and needed constant care from his parents until he died in 2015. When that happened, Robert Joyes began to drink heavily. His alcohol abuse worsened as his wife's physical state deteriorated. According to an agreed statement of facts, one of their sons visited his parents at their apartment on Mother's Day in 2018. That's the last time he saw Freda Joyes alive. Two weeks later, he came to the apartment to check on his parents and found his mother dead in her bed in an advanced stage of decomposition. His father was nowhere to be found. "During that time, he was grossly intoxicated," the court document states. "He understood the victim had passed away but did not want to report her death. "Instead, he kept drinking heavily while sleeping in the same bed as his dead wife." Robert Joyes was arrested for impaired driving on May 26, 2018, and for public intoxication the next day. No one knows exactly when Freda Joyes died. Her husband kept turning away home care workers by telling them they were going away and that everything was fine. Confession After Freda's body was found and the death reported, Robert Joyes confessed what had happened to his son. "Your mother didn't die in her sleep," Joyes told his son. "I suffocated her. She wanted it. She was in a lot of pain." His son insisted they go to the RCMP, where Joyes told an officer, "I put a pillow over her face." An autopsy was performed on May 30, 2018. At a preliminary hearing, the medical examiner, Dr. Bernard Bannach, testified that he concluded the cause of death was undetermined. Had it not been for Robert Joyes' confession, Bannach said he would have found the cause to be heart disease. Justice Clackson said that having reviewed the agreed statement of facts, he was confident Joyes likely would have been acquitted on the manslaughter charge, given the findings from the medical examiner. "One is not always sure about the mechanism of death, especially when there's a heart condition," Clackson said. Robert Joyes has undergone extensive treatment for his alcohol addiction and said he hasn't touched a drop since the death of his wife. "I fully understand and feel a lot of shame for what happened," he told the judge. "I realize my alcoholism was totally out of control. ... I have no excuses per se for what happened, other than I was so under the influence." He told the court he plans to spend the rest of his life sober, helping others who suffer from the same addiction. "Nearly 900 days ago, my client lost his best friend and partner of nearly 55 years," defence lawyer Anthony Oliver told the judge. "He clearly loved his wife who was literally on her deathbed." But, Oliver noted, "Our society can't function if you permit bodies to be left around."
Maggie, a two-year-old chocolate Lab, had been in three homes that didn't work out. Then the P.E.I. Humane Society decided to try something different.Jennifer Harkness, the society's development and communications manager, said that when Maggie arrived at the shelter, she was stressed and constantly barking, and it was hard for her to remain calm. > It was really that mental stimulation that she needed. \- Jennifer Harkness"She was so uncontrollable. It was easy to see how she was rehomed three times before," said HarknessBut when they began working with her, they saw a different side."We saw a lot of potential in Maggie. It was really that mental stimulation that she needed."She wasn't going to get in the typical home environment, so the society got in touch with Doug Stokely, a New Brunswick-based dog trainer who has been training police dogs for about a decade.Stokely saw the same qualities staff at the humane society saw."I asked for a couple of videos of her playing fetch and showing her hunt drive and her skills, and just talking with her [trainer] for five minutes, I basically knew that she is the type of dog that needed a job," he said."She has everything — rock-solid nerves, and just that drive and desire to work."'Exactly what we look for in a police dog'Maggie is with Stokely now, training and spending some time with his 19 other dogs, which includes a team of sled dogs.He has been working with her on her sniffing skills, and he said she is thriving in the environment."The reason dogs end up in a shelter, like Maggie, that's exactly what we look for in a police dog," he said.Dogs like Maggie aren't good at hanging around the house, said Stokely. They want to work.Staff at the humane society are thrilled Maggie has found a place."It just proves that taking the time to work with animals on what their needs are is so worthwhile," said Harkness.Maggie has been accepted into a K-9 training program, and Stokely is certain she will do very well, almost certainly ending up as a narcotics detection dog.More from CBC P.E.I.
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
"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.
Police in southern Germany say a woman got a shock while airing out her home when a 25-centimetre (10-inch) Chinese mitten crab scurried in from the terrace through the open door. Freiburg police said Thursday that they received a call reporting the unwanted home invader in the nearby town of Unterlauchringen, near the Swiss border, the previous morning. The invasive species, native to Asia, is now found in many rivers in Germany, and the woman's residence was not far from the Rhine, though the Chinese mitten crab has never been reported in the area before.
Authorities are continuing to search Lake Ontario for a missing sailor from Oakville after the U.S. Coast Guard found his boat without him three kilometres off Rochester, New York on Wednesday.The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Trenton, Ont. said in a tweet that "poor weather and high waves" are making the search difficult.Halton Regional Police said they believe Eric Quimby, 65, left the Oakville Club marina on Tuesday at about 10:40 a.m. in his 30-foot sailboat for a recreational trip to the Stoney Creek, Ont. area.Quimby is said to be a long-time member of the club and that he likes to get out on the water as often as possible. He also likes to go out alone."Quimby is a skilled sailor with more than 30 years' experience and makes this trip often," police said in a news release on Tuesday.Police said they were contacted on Tuesday evening when Quimby did not return home. He is believed to be the only person on board the boat, which is equipped with a motor. The boat has a red and white hull.Quimby was not on board the boat when it was discovered adrift by a concerned citizen out on the lake. The person said the boat looked suspicious and called the U.S. Coast Guard, which towed the boat into Rochester, where it remains.Halton police said the sailboat was "unoccupied."The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre has taken the lead on the search, which involves two Hercules aircraft, one from Canada and one from the U.S., and a Griffin helicopter. Halton police said the search is now in U.S. waters.Halton police said its marine unit is working with marine units from Peel Regional Police, Toronto Police Service and the Canadian Coast Guard.There are also volunteer coast guards helping in the search.Quimby is described as white, five-foot-10, 220 lbs., with a medium build, short blond hair and blue eyes.When he left on his trip, he was wearing a white t-shirt, a dark sweater and red shorts. He is believed to have more clothing on the boat, including sweaters and wind breakers.Anyone with information is urged to call police immediately.
The residents of a Mississauga, Ont., neighbourhood say they’ve been fighting a rat infestation for years and want city council to do more, including providing rebates for traps or exterminators.
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.
Ontario could be "on the brink of disaster," a Toronto epidemiologist said Wednesday, as officials continued to urge families to scrap Thanksgiving gatherings amid soaring COVID-19 cases.This week, the province — and public health officials in the hot zones of Toronto and Ottawa — stressed the safest way to celebrate is with only members of your own household.Should Ontarians not heed those warnings, some weekend gatherings could become superspreading events once infected attendees return to their homes, schools and workplaces, said Dr. Jeff Kwong, a professor of family medicine and public health at the University of Toronto."It's not just about this one transmission event; it's the onward transmission," he said. "Ten people gathering, say four or five get infected, then they go on to their social circles and infect another five or 10, and so on."The result could be like a "runaway train" given the millions of residents potentially congregating indoors with extended family members from different households, he said.Ontario is experiencing a seven-day average of more than 600 cases per day, up sharply from a seven-day average of fewer than 100 cases per day at the start of August.The province has also been struggling to tackle high demand for testing and an existing backlog of more than 55,000 tests. Most contact tracing efforts in Toronto have been suspended because of the dramatic rise in infections.Against that backdrop, Ontario officials are now encouraging household-only celebrations for Thanksgiving while saying people who live alone can pair up with one other household.Activities now 'much higher risk'Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Premier Doug Ford said residents let their guard down on previous holidays, such as Labour Day weekend, which led to increased cases.But there are several stark differences between those earlier festivities and Thanksgiving, Kwong said. Unlike the long weekend holidays of spring and summer, Thanksgiving is traditionally celebrated indoors given the colder weather. Also, it often marks the first time college and university students return home from campus, and it now falls against a backdrop of already-rising cases."Things are a little bit out of control already," he said. "It's not like cases are going down steadily like they were earlier in the summer."Dr. Irfan Dhalla, vice-president of physician quality at Unity Health, which includes St. Michael's and St. Joseph's hospitals in Toronto, agreed the climate has changed."The same activities that we could do with relatively low risk at 50-70 cases per day are now much higher risk at 500-700 cases per day," he said.One park gathering, 27 casesAccording to Dr. Vera Etches, medical officer of health for Ottawa, even outdoor dinners aren't advised for Thanksgiving, given the risks tied to close contact in settings like a park.One outdoor gathering in that city already wound up becoming a superspreading event, she said.It was a barbecue in a park, Etches revealed last month, with 40 attendees, including two who went on to develop COVID-19 symptoms. Those infections led to outbreaks in their households, a workplace and a daycare — causing dozens of exposures and at least 27 cases. The messaging throughout the pandemic has long been "outdoors is better than indoors," said University of Toronto epidemiologist Ashleigh Tuite, but she stressed that only goes so far."I think the concern is still, you're eating a meal together, it's hard to keep a distance," she explained. "You're sharing food. You're passing dishes."Thanksgiving a 'potent accelerator' Experts say there are ways to avoid those risks while still celebrating the spirit of the occasion. Tuite said a family hike, if physical distancing is maintained, is one option. Kwong said he's carving up a turkey, offering curbside pickup for family and gathering online for the meal. The challenge, both agree, is people trying to gather together like usual and slipping up once food and drinks start flowing.With that in mind, Kwong issued a public plea for Ontarians, and particularly those in Toronto, Ottawa and Peel region, to cancel any planned gatherings."We are on the brink of disaster," he said in a tweet on Wednesday.WATCH | Limit Thanksgiving gatherings to your own household and keep under 10 people indoors, says Ontario health officialToronto warns of spring peakIn Toronto, where medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa is also calling on residents to celebrate Thanksgiving with only their own household, there's growing concern about rising case counts beyond just the holiday.The city's latest modelling shows without further public health interventions — like month-long restaurant and gym closures de Villa is requesting from the province — the spread of COVID-19 throughout October could exceed the April peak. "If the virus is left unchecked, heading into November, things can get much worse," she said. "Infections continue to rise week over week, peaking between early March and early May 2021."When asked when the city will know if Thanksgiving gatherings caused even more infections, de Villa's answer was blunt: "I hope we don't get there."
Fred Bergman hardly takes a breath as he rattles off the list of economic injuries.Most notably, there's the income losses for 500 people who work at the oil refinery in Come By Chance, N.L., many of them making salaries in excess of $100,000."But then, of course, there's all the spinoff jobs — the distribution facilities for wholesale bulk fuel dealers, the jobs in the distribution network at the retail gas stations," Bergman said, outlining the cascading effects if the refinery shuts its doors for good."You're probably talking at least 1,400 jobs lost in total, potentially more."North Atlantic Refinery Ltd. said this week it's considering all options, including cutting costs, before ending operations. Irving Oil, which had been considering buying the refinery, recently walked away from a deal, leaving the company floundering.If its owners can't find a solution, the closure would be the latest hit to Newfoundland and Labrador's embattled oil industry, which has seen multiple delays in expansion and exploration projects in the last year.Fallout would spread to other sectors, too, said Bergman, a senior policy analyst for the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council."You're getting crude oil coming in.… You're getting import jobs, you're getting jobs in the transportation sector. Then you're getting refined product going out," he explained.Nearby retail stores can expect a dip in sales, as out-of-work residents tighten spending. As a result, the provincial coffers can expect to take a hit, too."You're going to get a loss of personal income tax, corporate tax, sales tax," he said.Those sources of income for the government — adding up to about $50 million or $60 million — "would be gone, effectively."The refinery makes up about one per cent of the provincial gross domestic product, according to Bergman. Its loss would further slow an already-sluggish offshore industry hit by delays and uncertainty following global oil market volatility this year.The ripple effect would be smaller in comparison with offshore setbacks, he said, "but certainly, it would add to the woes of the oil and gas industry in Newfoundland and Labrador."Another blow for the provinceLooking at the situation optimistically, he said, oil refineries everywhere — not just at home — appear to have a limited life span.Demand for fuel products could see a broader slowdown globally with more economies pushing for net-zero emissions, said Bergman, pointing to two refinery closures in Nova Scotia, the latest in 2013. "It does happen," he said.But if the Come By Chance refinery does close, it offers a new set of future problems: what to do next."Obviously there's environmental cleanup," Bergman said, and associated costs.The lack of refined fuels also means buyers must import: there's no longer a local option."That's a deduction from GDP. It doesn't really add to GDP anymore," he said"You have to get the fuel from somewhere. People still need to drive their cars, planes still need to fly, boats still need to sail."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
New Brunswick health officials have identified potential public exposure to COVID-19 at the Moncton Costco Optical Centre and Moncton St-Hubert restaurant.Both sites are popular with Prince Edward Islanders and Nova Scotians making day trips to shop in the Moncton area.The news led P.E.I.'s chief public health officer to issue a statement late Wednesday."Out of an abundance of caution, Islanders who accessed services at the Costco Optical Centre or St-Hubert Restaurant in Moncton since Thursday, October 1 should monitor for symptoms of COVID-19," said the news release from Dr. Heather Morrison. "Islanders who are experiencing symptoms should immediately visit a drop-in testing clinic to be tested."The public health warning came from Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health, as she and Premier Blaine Higgs gave a grim update on the province's latest COVID-19 outbreak. They confirmed 17 new cases of COVID-19 amid efforts to contain the outbreak identified Tuesday at the Manoir Notre-Dame special care home in Moncton.Russell said 13 residents, four staff and two family members have now tested positive for the coronavirus, up from two residents whose illnesses were announced a day earlier.New Brunswick now has 20 active cases in the Moncton region and two in the Saint John region.As of a briefing on Tuesday morning, P.E.I. still had three active COVID-19 cases. Word of the possible exposure locations in Moncton comes as Prince Edward Island prepares to sign on with the COVID Alert contact notification app, as of Thursday morning. Meanwhile, despite the increase in cases in New Brunswick, a spokesperson for the Nova Scotia government said the province has no intention of changing its border protocols at this time. More from CBC P.E.I.
TORONTO — A "Battle of the Blades" executive producer says a woman from the show's team who tested positive for COVID-19 is in self-isolation in Toronto with no symptoms, and the creators are confident the case is isolated and production can resume next week. Lindsay Cox, who is also senior vice-president at Insight Productions, says they can't reveal the woman's name or her role on the upcoming sixth season of the televised skating competition due to privacy issues. But Cox does say the woman was tested for COVID-19 on Monday through a private testing agency on-site, as part of the production's regular pandemic protocols. The result came back later that evening and Cox says they notified the appropriate parties and used contact tracing on the woman, who was already alone at the time the positive test result came in. Cox says anyone who had been in contact with the woman is now isolating, has not tested positive and is not symptomatic. "We feel very confident that we have isolated this," Cox said in a phone interview, noting their intention is to go back into production on Tuesday. Insight Productions revealed the case on Wednesday, noting it's halting preparations and training for the show as a "precautionary measure" to ensure the safety of cast and crew, who Cox said "are truly being responsible" about the situation. CBC, which airs the show, said it supports the decision and will postpone the planned Oct. 15 premiere. The network said it will share scheduling updates as soon as possible. Cox said the woman is abiding by Toronto Public Health guidelines for self-isolation and is not to go outside, except for a medical appointment, if required. Producers are monitoring her health and ensuring that a doctor speaks to her regularly. "The person who tested positive will not be returning until following quarantine, but then will be returning to the show, and we are confident she'll remain asymptomatic," Cox said. "Anyone who was in touch with her who is in isolation also will not return until all the guidelines have been followed, and as testing continues to show negatives coming back." "Hockey Night in Canada" personality Ron MacLean hosts "Battle of the Blades," which returned to the CBC last year, nearly six years after it left the air. This year's instalment of the celebrity on-ice contest has already started training and filming interviews with COVID-19 protocols at the CAA Centre in Brampton, Ont. Video screens in the arena will show a virtual audience watching and reacting to the live performances from their homes and communities. Olympic ice dance champion Scott Moir, hockey champion Natalie Spooner and professional skater Elladj Balde are this season's judges, alongside world champion figure skater Kurt Browning as "elite battle expert." The live-competition series sees hockey players and figure skaters pairing up to perform on-ice dance routines for an audience and judges, with the winners getting $100,000 in prize money that they donate to charities of their choice. The production administers COVID-19 tests either daily or twice weekly, depending on the department, said Cox, noting they have "very strict" protocols and guidelines to ensure safety on set. The private testing agency sends the results to a lab and usually gets the results back within the same day, she said. The production works with doctors, a wellness director, a COVID-19 compliance officer and other experts. Other pandemic protocols on set include temperature checks, masks and pods of people to limit contact. For instance, each hockey player and figure skater pair is in a contained pod with a coach and choreographer, who don't work with any of the other teams. This season has eight pairs of 16 skaters: Violetta Afanasieva and Anthony Stewart; Meghan Agosta and Andrew Poje; Jennifer Botterill and Eric Radford; Jessica Campbell and Asher Hill; Meagan Duhamel and Wojtek Wolski; Carlotta Edwards and Kris Versteeg; Vanessa James and Akim Aliu; and Kaitlyn Weaver and Bryan Bickell. This isn't the first Canadian production to be derailed by COVID-19 concerns. In August, two people involved in the St. John's-shot television series "Hudson & Rex" tested positive for the virus. Cox said Insight Productions has been evolving its COVID-19 protocols as things change with Health Canada, and it is now looking at further ways to reduce contamination between departments. It is also working closely with the wardrobe department to figure out ways to ensure the skaters' masks stay on their faces while they're on the ice. "There have been moments where they fall off, they slide down, so we're working really closely with how we can create new technologies such as glue-on technology, how masks can get affixed into hair," she said. "We are looking at that really, really closely and determining what's required for the on-air performances." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 7, 2020. The Canadian Press
President Donald Trump said Thursday that he is ready to hold campaign rallies and he credited an experimental drug treatment with helping his recovery from COVID-19, although there is no way for the president or his doctors to know whether the drug had any effect. “I think I’m better to the point where I’d love to do a rally tonight,” Trump said adding that he no longer thinks he's "contagious at all.” Trump credited the drug treatment with helping his recovery and suggested his diagnosis could be a “blessing in disguise" in the nation's battle against the pandemic.
Alberta's energy minister says the province intends to clear hurdles to the development of clean geothermal energy. "We see this as a stand-alone opportunity to bring in a new sector to drive investment," Savage told a news conference Wednesday.
A 60-year-old man has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Vien Ngoc Bui, 64, in Mission, B.C.Van Chau Nguyen was arrested by the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) Oct. 2 and is also charged with arson, forceful confinement, assault with a weapon and uttering threats.Bui's remains were discovered in the aftermath of an early morning fire in the 30800-block of Gunn Avenue on Aug. 8.IHIT says the two men knew each other, but is releasing few details."This was a highly involved investigation that began with a very challenging crime scene," said Sgt. Frank Jang.Nguyen's next court appearance is on Oct. 9.
Toronto plans to make an additional 560 beds available to the homeless this winter but advocates warn the spots won't be enough for the growing number of people living in encampments across the city since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The increase in beds — 100 of which will be at an exhibition centre, with plastic barriers to prevent the spread of the virus — is part of the city's winter plan for the homeless outlined earlier this week. Mary-Anne Bedard, general manager of Toronto's shelter, support and housing administration, said the city believes it will have enough beds to house those who want to get inside during the cold months. There will be 240 hotel rooms among the new spaces, along with 220 spots in shelters that will become available when the same number of people move into new homes, including two new modular housing projects, Bedard said. "This year, more than ever, we wanted to make sure we were offering a range of different types of services so we can hit as many people we could with a service that they would be comfortable in accepting," she said. But Greg Cook, an outreach worker with Sanctuary Ministries Toronto, said the city's plan falls short. "It's a really inadequate response," he said. "There are encampments everywhere and they're growing — we think over 1,000 people are outside and this only has space for 560." Cook also raised concerns about the 100 new beds the city plans to place in one building on the grounds of the Canadian National Exhibition. COVID-19 has been known to spread easily in congregate settings. Bedard said the beds at the respite centre will have L-shaped Plexiglas barriers to help keep people safe. Cathy Crowe, a longtime street nurse and homeless advocate, said the city's plan to use plastic barriers between beds is problematic. "This will give a false sense of security that they're going to be safe from COVID-19," she said. Cook added that it seemed odd that Toronto's medical officer of health has asked the province to shut down in-person dining at restaurants while the city approved a plan to have 100 people sleep in a large room. "Why is it not ok for people dining, but it is ok for people sleeping?" Cook said. "They know it’s not ok." As of Monday, there have been 650 cases of COVID-19 in Toronto shelters, including seven active cases, and five deaths. Dozens of encampments have popped up throughout the city since the pandemic began as people fled shelters for fear of COVID-19. The city's Streets To Homes team has counted about 400 tents across the city, Bedard said — a number advocates question. Bedard added it's very difficult to get an accurate number of those living outside if they haven't used any city service. "Every neighbourhood is experiencing increased levels of homelessness that are much more visible in their communities," she said. The city has undergone a massive rehoming initiative in order to depopulate shelters to allow for proper physical distancing inside. They've bought or leased 30 buildings and hotels and have moved about 4,000 people out of shelters since the pandemic began. They have also moved about 900 people out of encampments into various types of housing, Bedard said. Lambrina Nikolaou, the director of adult community programs with West Neighbourhood House, which runs a drop-in program for the homeless, said the city should be commended for its efforts through the pandemic. But she also cautioned that a certain number of people in encampments will not want to stay in a hotel or shelter due to a variety of factors, including being taken away from services such as harm reduction resources. "We need to meet people where they're at to keep them safe and healthy," she said. Nikolaou said the city should listen to the needs of those living in the encampments and implement some of the recommendations from a coroner's inquest into the death of Grant Faulkner, who died in 2015 in Toronto after his shed caught fire while he was using a propane-powered stove to keep warm. Those recommendations included the city providing survival equipment such as sleeping bags and safe heat sources. The city is currently defending itself against two lawsuits brought by the homeless and their advocates. One is to ensure proper physical distancing in the shelters while the other is challenging a city bylaw that doesn't allow camping in parks. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 7, 2020. Liam Casey, The Canadian Press
Alia Youssef and Mohamed El-Sawah have been in a long-distance relationship for the better part of a year, though they live just a 35-minute drive apart. Youssef lives in Windsor, Ont., El-Sawah in a suburb of Detroit, Mich. When the Canada-U.S. border was closed in March due to COVID-19, they were forced to place many of the cultural and religious traditions important to their Egyptian, Muslim engagement on hold. Youssef has yet to meet her husband-to-be's parents in person. The two have been looking at wedding venues and getting to know each other's families over video calls. "We're engaged with no rings, let's call it that," El-Sawah said in a phone interview on Wednesday. Couples like Youssef and El-Sawah have been in a grey area since pandemic-related travel restrictions came into effect, unable to reunite due to their unmarried status. But some hope appeared last week when Ottawa announced it would ease some border restrictions. Starting Thursday, romantic partners of Canadians can apply to enter the country, with documentation proving at least a year-long relationship. Extended family members including grandparents, adult children and grandchildren and those seeking entry for compassionate grounds may also apply. Specifics on who qualifies, what documents are required and how to apply will be defined in greater detail on Thursday. It's a welcome avenue for couples whose lives have been placed on hold for the last eight months. Youssef, El-Sawah and others in international engagements can now proceed cautiously with their wedding plans – factoring in quarantine requirements, work obligations and limits on other relatives allowed to travel and participate. "We're really happy, but it's just now we have to take what we have and work with it," Youssef said. The pair plan to reunite in December, when El-Sawah can take the required two weeks off from work. At the end of his quarantine, they hope to finally exchange rings and hold a small engagement party, though El-Sawah will be the only member of his biological family there. While Ottawa has stressed that nobody should make travel plans until they've been approved under the program, some have eagerly started booking accommodations and packing their bags. Sarah Campbell of Stratford, Ont., cried tears of happiness at the announcement. She's been separated from her fiance Jacob Taylor during the pandemic and through a cancer diagnosis this July. Campbell and Taylor, who lives in Bath, England, are gathering documents showing proof of their relationship in anticipation of the soon-to-be-announced requirements. "We're hoping he can be here by Saturday," she said in a telephone interview. "Jacob is ready to go." If everything goes according to plan, they hope to be married by the end of the month — the day after Taylor's quarantine ends. Kaylee Carson of Cleveland, Ohio, also moved quickly after hearing the news. She snapped up an available Airbnb in Barrie, Ont., where her Canadian fiance Darren Quesnel works. "I went ahead and booked," Carson said by phone. "I'm going to be there for two months, so I just booked the first month and I figured if I'm not there by then he can just go stay at the Airbnb until I get there." She's happy an end to their separation is in sight, though the eventual wedding date in the U.S. is still to be determined. "It's just a relief to know that I'm going to get to go see him," she said. David Poon has been running a campaign along with other families not covered by the former travel exemptions, asking Ottawa to adapt immigration measures to accommodate those left out. He said participants are grateful the government found a solution. "We know that it was an incredibly difficult problem to solve," he said from Ireland, where the Canadian doctor is currently staying with his partner. The key demand – allowing adult children and non-married couples to reunite in Canada – has been won, but Poon said the biggest hurdle remaining for the approximately 7,500 people involved in the campaign is inability for many to take time off work to quarantine. Those on temporary visas also face challenges bringing their loved ones to Canada. He stressed that the campaign isn't fighting quarantine rules, but looking for a solution so more people can take advantage of the program – like requiring the Canadian partner to isolate once their significant other leaves the country, no matter the length of their stay. The uncertainty of waiting and the challenges of planning a wedding long-distance during a pandemic have been painful, El-Sawah said. But the experience has brought the couple together on a deeper level, and convinced him beyond a doubt that he's found a soul mate and life partner in Youssef. "It affirmed my love for this woman," he said. "The silver lining to me is I know a thousand per cent, a million per cent that she's the one and she's willing to put the effort. Whatever life throws at us, we'll be able to handle it." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 7, 2020. Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press
One of the oldest houses in West Vancouver has been spared from demolition and the district will begin the process of securing its future as a heritage home.Councillors voted Monday to halt a previous proposal to tear down the Navvy Jack House and instead apply for provincial heritage funding.The district will also allocate $150,000 to determine whether the waterfront home can be restored and moved up from the rising shoreline."I believe this is the right decision," Mayor Mary-Ann Booth said. "We really resolved as a council to commit to giving this our best shot."John "Navvy Jack" Thomas was a Welsh deserter from the Royal Navy who married Rowia, a Squamish Nation woman, in the early 1870s. They raised their four children — Sampson, Christine, Mary, and Emma — in what is now called the Navvy Jack House. The house was continually occupied from 1873 to 2017, and is now owned by the municipality. The house is in dire need of repair and its future has faced months of uncertainty. After consulting with the public and the Squamish Nation, options up for consideration included a $2-million renovation, tearing the house down, or rebuilding it as a nature centre or replica.The West Vancouver Streamkeeper Society has asked that the site be rehabilitated to ensure a safe place for salmon to rear in the nearby creek before swimming to the ocean. The house must be moved for this work to be done, and it has to be done by summer 2021 to comply with fisheries laws.The district will try to accommodate these requests, Booth said. Fundraising and grants will be required to cover the costs, but the district will match those requests with a $1-million commitment, she added.The total cost of restoring the home could be $2.5 to $5 million, Booth said. Dozens of people called into Monday's council meeting, Booth said, including descendants of Navvy Jack as far away as Churchill, Manitoba.Booth has asked that collaboration with First Nations continue throughout the process of restoring the home. "This is a big deal for the community. It has a huge historical significance, but it also potentially has a huge price tag. And during COVID, it really highlighted financial vulnerabilities from the district perspective. So we have to be realistic about how much it's going to cost to to restore the house," Booth said. "It's a big commitment for the community. I think it's doable, but I think it's going to take some time."
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is reinstating tighter restrictions on areas where coronavirus cases are spiking. Many neighborhoods affected are home to large enclaves of Orthodox Jews, and community leaders have complained of being singled out. (Oct. 7)
Asked what is being done to help those who are homeless who may be unable to book appointments for COVID-19 testing, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Wednesday that they are doing mobile testing, teams are going into shelters to administer tests as needed and are looking at other methods to ensure testing is done.