Republicans are mobilizing thousands of volunteers to watch early voting sites and ballot drop boxes leading up to November's election, part of an effort to find evidence to back up President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated complaints about widespread voter fraud. Across key battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Florida and Wisconsin, Republican poll watchers will be searching for irregularities, especially with regard to mail-in ballots whose use is surging amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to more than 20 officials involved in the effort. The mission, the officials said, is to capture photos and videos Republicans can use to support so-far unfounded claims that mail voting is riddled with chicanery, and to help their case if legal disputes erupt over the results of the Nov. 3 contest between Republican incumbent Trump and his Democratic opponent Joe Biden.
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
The end is coming for plastic grocery bags, straws and cutlery after the federal government announced today which single-use plastics will be covered by a national ban coming into effect next year.Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson unveiled the list of soon-to-be-banned items Wednesday morning at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que.As it was compiling the list, the government said it considered plastics that are harmful to the environment and hard to recycle, and whether there are readily available alternatives.The single-use plastics that will be banned are: * Grocery checkout bags * Straws * Stir sticks * Six-pack rings * Plastic cutlery * Food takeout containers made from hard-to-recycle plastics (like black plastic packaging)The regulations to introduce the ban will be finalized by the end of 2021, said Wilkinson."When a ban comes into effect, your local stores will be providing you with alternatives to these plastic products, like reusable or paper bags in place of plastic," he said."I know it is presently hard to come back from the grocery store without a single use plastic item ... You use it, you throw it in the recycling bin and more often than not, it ends up in a landfill. This has to change, which is why we'll be working with grocers and industry leaders and provinces and territories to keep more plastic in our economy through recycling."While Wilkinson emphasized the importance of reducing plastic waste, he also said the ban is only a small step."I would say to you, if you put up the number of plastic products we use, the ban is probably a fraction of ... one per cent of the products," he said.As part of its efforts to reach its goal of zero plastic waste by 2030, the federal government said it's developing new standards for other plastic items that will require them to contain a minimum amount of recycled material."What we're talking about is enhancing the rate with which we're recycling, reusing those products and keeping those materials in our economy," Wilkinson said.Watch | A more 'systemic approach' to how we make and use plastics needed, says ecologistAshley Wallis, the plastics program manager with Environmental Defence, said she's like to see more items added to the list and wants the government to set clear targets for plastic reuse and recycling. "We need to see the economy fundamentally shift away from this linear, disposable economy," she said.Changes coming for restaurantsWhen asked how small businesses — especially restaurants surviving on takeout sales during the pandemic — will handle the shift, Wilkinson said the government was careful to choose items with environmentally-friendly alternatives already on the market."We've been very sensitive to try and ensure this can be done in a very much affordable way for all businesses," he said. "I mean, most of the beer industry has already moved away from [plastic six-pack rings] and moved to hard caps on the top of them, which are recyclable "Restaurants Canada, a not-for-profit association representing Canada's food service industry, says it will keep pushing for policies that "avoid any undue burden on businesses continuing to rely on single-use items to safeguard the health and safety of staff and customers.""The COVID-19 crisis has made the critical need for single-use items very clear. Throughout the pandemic, restaurants have quickly and effectively adapted to evolving public health guidance," said spokesperson Marlee Wasser in a statement."Businesses are willing to adapt their practices and make investments to support progress toward the implementation of a Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste. But they want to ensure these investments are effective."Watch | Liberal government bans some single-use plastics to 'achieve zero plastic waste by 2030.'Paul Shufelt, a chef who owns five restaurants in Alberta, said he isn't too worried."I think it's a great initiative. I'm happy to see it," he said."Is it going to make things tougher for some? Perhaps. But I think we can all learn to live without plastic straws and those plastic grocery bags and things like that. We just have to adjust our life a little bit."Shufelt said that while the change likely will come with increased costs, he's happy to see it happen."Is this going to be the thing that breaks us? I don't think so. Is it going to cost a little more? Probably," he said."But in the grand scheme of things, I feel like this is something we can do for the greater good."Wilkinson said the ban will not include plastics used to make personal protective gear or medical waste. Report flagged wildlife concernsThe ban, which follows some local bans on single-use plastics, is happening under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, which required a scientific assessment of the problem first.That assessment report, released in January, said that in 2016, 29,000 tonnes of plastic garbage — the equivalent of about 2.3 billion single-use plastic water bottles — ended up as litter in Canada on beaches, in parks, in lakes and even in the air.The report looked at the impact of all types of plastics and pointed to evidence that macroplastics — pieces bigger than 5 mm — are hurting wildlife.Watch | 'We are not leading the world in this'Dead birds have been found with plastic in their intestines, whales have washed up on shore with stomachs full of plastic (including flip flops and nylon ropes). In one case cited by the study, an emaciated turtle was found with plastic in its digestive tract.The evidence was less clear about the harmful impacts of ingesting microplastics for people and wildlife, and the scientists recommended further study. At the time, Wilkinson said the evidence on the effects of macroplastics was enough to go ahead with the ban.
TORONTO — Ontario and its largest city appeared at odds Wednesday on how to tackle a spike in COVID-19 in Toronto that local health officials warned could quickly surpass the initial wave of the virus if left unchecked. Ontario Premier Doug Ford repeatedly voiced his reluctance to temporarily halt indoor dining in restaurants, one of several measures Toronto's top doctor requested last week in light of the growing community spread of the virus. Though the province has not yet formally responded to Dr. Eileen de Villa's proposal, Ford said he believes most restaurant owners are following public health guidelines and shouldn't be penalized due to a few "bad actors." "We just can't shut down people's livelihoods quickly with a broad brush," he said. "We have to be very, very careful when we're messing with people's lives like this." De Villa, meanwhile, stressed the need for swift action as she released new projections suggesting that if the current rate of COVID-19 transmission is maintained, cases could surpass the city's April peak in the next few weeks. "If the virus is left unchecked, heading into November, things can get much worse. Infections continue to rise week over week, peaking between early March and early May 2021," she told an afternoon news conference. According to the public health unit, the city's current reproductive number — which represents how many people, on average, each COVID-19 case will infect — is 1.2, meaning the outbreak is growing. De Villa said the province's calculations place that number even higher, at 1.4. A reproductive number of 1.0 means the outbreak is stable, while anything below that indicates it will "slowly die out," she said. "We have been trying our very, very best to manage this balance between reopening and recognizing that that reopening would give rise to increased social interaction between people and therefore increase the risk of COVID-19 activity," she said. While there are no "simple answers," experience from other jurisdictions shows earlier intervention reduces the impact on the community and the length of any restrictions, she said. Toronto Mayor John Tory said the city and province are working together to "square things" when it comes to dealing with the situation. In an open letter released Friday, de Villa called for the province to enact tighter restrictions for Toronto over a month, including a ban on indoor dining and other indoor recreational activities. She said provincial action was required because she received legal advice that it would be "unprecedented'' for a local medical officer of health to enact such broad changes. Ontario's chief medical officer of health said he would review her proposal. The province reported 583 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, and one new death due to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott said 173 of the new cases were in Toronto, 121 in Ottawa, 75 in York Region, and 70 in Peel Region. The province said it has a backlog of 55,413 tests, and has conducted 43,277 tests since the last daily report. Meanwhile, Ontario is set to make a pandemic measure that allowed restaurants and bars to deliver alcohol permanent. Associate Minister of Small Business Prabmeet Sarkaria said the government is exploring ways to change laws surrounding the delivery of alcohol before they expire at the end of the year. The change is part of new legislation to help small businesses that have struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sarkaria said the bill will also make temporary measures that allowed 24-hour delivery to pharmacies and grocery stores permanent. The government said it will provide grants of up to $1,000 for small businesses to buy personal protective equipment. The grants will be available to businesses with fewer than 10 employees and can also be used to make pandemic-related safety changes such as installing Plexiglas barriers. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 7, 2020. Paola Loriggio, 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.
Victoria's iconic 112-year-old Empress Hotel will be out of commission this winter.Fairmont Hotels and Resorts announced late Monday that the hotel will close completely for 87 days, starting Jan. 3, to complete a necessary $3-million renovation to its heating system. A release from Fairmont Hotels and Resorts says there'll be "periods of time where the building will be without heat ... or hot water," as the project involves replacing the building's steam heating system with a high-efficiency hot water heating system, along with replacing two 1960's-era steam boilers and hot water tanks.The hotel's automation system, which controls things like heating, lighting and security features, will also be upgraded. The building is expected to reopen on April 1.The hotel's general manager Indu Brar said in a press release that "being able to leverage the slower season and reduced tourism due to COVID-19 travel restrictions gives us the opportunity to complete these necessary upgrades."Union 'disappointed,' as workers laid off yet againPublic Relations director Tracey Drake said employees will be laid off during the three-month closure, and the hotel is extending its recall time period from 12 months to 24 months, so 90 per cent of employees can return. "[These] are always our quietest months of the year, so many of our colleagues do not work during these months anyways," added Drake.She couldn't say how many employees will be out of work, as many remain laid off from when the hotel closed in March due to COVID-19.Stu Shields, a national representative of Unifor, the union representing the hotel workers, said he's upset that around 75 employees who'd returned to work when the hotel reopened will be out of work yet again. The workers are voting on whether to approve the one-year recall extension that would allow them to reclaim their jobs until March 2022. Results will be known next week. "They are understandably disappointed. They were really hoping that business would open up. It's back onto [Employment Insurance] for the vast majority of the workers there," he said, adding the union is skeptical that the hotel has to close entirely to complete its upgrades.A prudent time to renovate, say tourism advocatesPaul Nursey, CEO of Destination Greater Victoria, said it's a "prudent time" for the Empress Hotel to renovate, given the slow season expected."They're making a strategic investment ... and it shows a commitment to improve the guest experience," Nursey said.Anthony Everett, CEO of Tourism Vancouver Island said he's surprised the Empress will be closing completely, but expects tourism numbers to drop significantly in Victoria and across Vancouver Island this winter. "Successful businesses … have been using this time to do those things that they otherwise might not be doing, [such as] improvements," he explained. Nursey said he's sympathetic to those businesses who cannot afford to make improvements for the long-term this winter."There's a lot of anxiety as we're heading into the fall," Everett said, adding that "there are going to be some tough decisions this winter" as many businesses decide whether to keep their doors open.
The CBC is cutting about 130 jobs across the country over the next three months, the Crown corporation said Wednesday."As a result of some necessary changes with respect to resizing our business, a number of positions from within the organization will no longer be a part of our workforce come the end of the calendar year," Barbara Williams, CBC's executive vice-president of English services, said in a note to staff.In a separate note to staff, an official said that 58 positions across news, current affairs and local will be cut.Subsequent to that announcement, CBC spokesperson Chuck Thompson said in an interview that there will be job reductions beyond the divisions outlined in the note to staff, and in total, about 130 positions across the CBC's English-language services will be cut by the end of the year.Most of the losses will affect positions based in Toronto, although the cuts will be spread among five centres across Canada.CBC/Radio-Canada currently employs roughly 7,500 people across the country.A "good portion" of the cuts were achieved through attrition, collapsed vacancies and retirement, Williams said.The company cited higher costs, coupled with lower revenues, to explain the decision.Williams said the CBC began the fiscal year with a roughly $21 million budget deficit "due to declines in advertising and subscription revenues linked to our traditional television business and to inflation on a portion of our parliamentary allocation."Those financial pressures predated the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has exacerbated the situation for the CBC and other media organizations."This reset would have happened irrespective of COVID," Thompson said.The move comes as private-sector broadcasters are also cutting costs and staff In July, Global News laid off several dozen staff in a restructuring that saw the company significantly curtail its coverage of entertainment and lifestyle journalism and scale back its social media team."Like every media company, CBC operates in a challenging media landscape, a media landscape which is in constant disruption," Williams said."The next few weeks will be challenging as we go through the workforce adjustment process."
The race to secure a vaccine against COVID-19 has pitted country against country, which could undermine efforts to control the virus worldwide.While the World Health Organization is calling for those at highest risk of getting and spreading the virus to receive a vaccine first, rich countries are making deals to stockpile their own supplies — even before safe and effective vaccines exist — and that comes with risks.This kind of vaccine nationalism means every country fends for itself, with wealthier nations buying up supplies of vaccines and leaving little for other nations.Dr. Margaret Harris, a spokesperson for the World Health Organization, says vaccine nationalism is self-defeating in multiple ways: it will hinder the revival of the global economy and extend disruptions of world trade and travel."You could take the view that your population might like you better if you were the one grabbing all the vaccine," Harris said. "But your population won't love you if the pandemic is going on and on and on."Canada has made deals to secure up to 282 million doses of potential vaccines. The federal government has also signed on to WHO's COVAX program, which aims to buy and fairly distribute shots globally.If the vaccines wealthy countries have pre-ordered directly from manufacturers don't pan out, COVAX offers a life insurance policy of sorts. Under COVAX, they would have access to vaccines that did succeed, but only enough for 20 per cent of their populations, to ensure global coverage. Alyson Kelvin, a virologist evaluating made-in-Canada vaccines at the VIDO InterVac lab in Saskatoon, said she thinks it's important for Canada to secure doses for its own people."I often think of this as a situation where we're all on a plane, and when the plane's going down, they ask you to make sure that you have your mask on before you help others," Kelvin said. "Keeping our own country running is going to help us help other people prepare."Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a former White House policy adviser, warned that vaccine nationalism has limits."Canada's pre-bought about six or seven times its population," Emanuel said. "We need to think through that. Is that a kind of hoarding?"Emanuel and his co-authors outlined three principles for an ethical framework of allocating vaccines: * Limit harm in the world. * Prioritize the disadvantaged. * Show equal moral concern. If the ethical framework isn't followed, Emanuel said, there could be consequences. "What that really means is that people will unnecessarily die," Emanuel said. Modeling researchers also predict that if COVID-19 vaccines are monopolized by rich countries rather than distributed equally, that could lead to twice as many deaths from the disease — globally. Geopolitical influences at playU.S. President Donald Trump won't join COVAX because he objects to WHO's leadership. Instead, the U.S.'s Operation Warp Speed aims to produce and deliver 300 million doses of safe and effective vaccines, with the ambitious target of having the initial doses available by January 2021. WATCH | Russia launches its Sputnik V vaccine:So far, the U.S. has made deals for Massachusetts-based Moderna's mRNA vaccine candidate, and AstraZeneca/University of Oxford's adenovirus vector vaccine, among others. Meanwhile, China is still in negotiations to join COVAX. It has more than a half dozen vaccine candidates, according to WHO's list. On Tuesday, a WHO official told reporters that China is in preliminary discussions to have its vaccines included in a list for emergency use.Russia was the first country to give regulatory approval for a novel coronavirus vaccine, which has been met with suspicion by the West because it was approved before large-scale clinical trials were done. It is being offered first to teachers and front-line health-care workers.Lawrence Gostin, a law professor at Georgetown University in Washington who specializes in public health law, said geopolitics has affected the world's view of the Russian vaccine candidate because it violated scientific and regulatory norms."Some countries have hoarded vaccine supplies by contracting with vaccine companies in advance," Gostin said in an email. "There is also a geopolitical competition for the vaccine, mostly between Russia, China, and the United States. This clouds the judgment of leaders and even the public."WATCH | How vaccine nationalism could hinder pandemic fight:Microsoft founder Bill Gates said Tuesday that under a best-case scenario, wealthy countries could be back to something close to normal by late 2021 if there is a COVID-19 vaccine that is safe, effective and ready to be widely distributed to the general population. But even then geopolitics will still come into play. "Now, the capacity will take time to ramp up," Gates, 64, told the Wall Street Journal CEO Council. "And so the allocation within the U.S., and between the U.S. and other countries, will be a very top point of contention."The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has signed agreements with pharmaceutical companies to facilitate broad distribution of approved vaccines and is participating in COVAX.
"We're all in this together" has a friendly reassuring tone. Used by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Doug Ford and many others, it reminds Canadians that in the time of COVID-19 everyone is suffering.But a new letter in the alphabet of recovery patterns implies that the happy phrase may not be true. Friday's jobs numbers will offer another bit of statistical evidence to help fill in the picture.As early as May, economic thinkers were sketching out four recovery shapes based on the letters V, W, U and L.V was generally considered the best result as the economy bounced right back. The gloomiest was the L-shape that implied we were going to go down and stay there for a while.K is not for cohesiveThe K-shaped recovery is not quite as doom-laden as an L, but it may be worse for a cohesive society.The K shape is no miraculous economic invention; it's merely shorthand for the idea that hardship is not shared equally. It suggests that rather than a single path that we all follow either up or down, the economy is in the process of dividing in two. One arm of the K goes up. The other goes down.Many economy watchers have already marked its arrival. Certainly in Canadian real estate, the division between those bidding up detached houses to record levels are a sign of the K phenomenon. This week, for example, data from the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board showed the most desirable low-rise homes rose at a staggering 42 per cent year on year."Improving economic conditions and extremely low borrowing costs sustained record-level sales in September," TRREB president Lisa Patel said in a monthly data release.But while banks are pleased to lend at those low rates to people who have steady jobs, not everyone has access to that cheap money. Nor does everyone feel like going out on a spending binge.TRREB data shows high rise condos only increased in value by one-sixth as much, and other data has shown that rental prices are weakening, further signs of a two-speed economy.In its most extreme interpretations, as discussed earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal, the division between the well-employed and the unemployed is stark and in danger of growing, especially in the U.S., where Congress has not yet agreed on a new income support plan.Striking disconnect"The divergence helps explain the striking disconnect of a stock market and household wealth near record highs, while lines stretch at food banks and applications for jobless benefits continue to grow," said the Journal.The K pattern may be visible in Friday's unemployment data. Effectively the upward pointing bar of the K includes that group of people with stable incomes who are able to keep doing their jobs using their computers from home. Those people, usually in management, administrative or technical kinds of jobs, have traditionally been better paid. Teachers and medical professionals are in that group.While retired people may have been more isolated, partly in fear of being the most susceptible to the virus, their incomes are mostly on the top bar of the K, as low interest rates push investments up and pension funds fatten.A third group whose incomes are rising and stable might be seen as those providing services to the other two groups. Delivery people and Amazon warehouse workers at the low end of the wage spectrum and well-paid contractors doing fix-it work on houses of the well-employed would tend to be on the rising bar of the K.The great divide between the two arms of the K reminds me of my favourite Wall Street Journal headline from the last recession, which applies again today: "Wealthier Households Carry the Spending Load." As I commented at the time, as well as having to get all the money, the long-suffering rich had to do all the shopping as well!The downward-pointing bar of the K includes many lower-paid people, including hotel cleaning staff and other hospitality and retail workers, which will disproportionately affect recent immigrant groups and women. But it also has affected many traditionally well-paid employees in the travel-related sector including another round of layoffs at Boeing, possibly today. And those workers don't come cheap.As energy demand falls, jobs in the well-paying oil and gas sector have tightened further. Business owners and people in the lucrative commercial property sector have suffered income loss and some have effectively lost jobs.Shrinking profitsIn new research released today, the Business Development Bank shows that 76 per cent of small- and medium-sized businesses have watched revenues and profits shrink and are looking for ways to pivot their businesses to succeed in the post COVID-19 era.There are two things to watch if upcoming statistics, including jobs numbers, show that the letter K is the best alphabetic descriptor of where the economy goes next.The first is that a long-lasting shortage of work even after the lockdown ends is likely to have a macroeconomic effect on the entire economy, cutting growth and reducing the circulation of money.But the other lesson learned in the 1930s is that even a shutdown that throws 25 per cent of employees out of work does not cause the entire economy to grind to a halt. Those whose families lived through the Great Depression will know that for households in which one person was among the 75 per cent who still had a job, that family continued to buy and spend and live in a surprisingly normal manner. Jobless families suffered much more.That's why Parliament's unanimous vote in favour of a long-term benefit plan may provide Canada with an economic advantage, helping the most unlucky to eke out a living until the jobs come back or new ones are created.Follow Don on Twitter: @don_pittis
OC Transpo hopes to start changing the mask habits of some of its riders with a two-week project it's calling "operation mask up." "We heard about ... some people not wearing their masks," said James Babe, chief special constable with OC Transpo. "[We decided] to move to the next phase, which is warnings."The transit agency has had a mandatory mask rule since mid June, and while most people are wearing masks, Babe said OC Transpo has been getting complaints that some people are not following rules.While OC Transpo bus and train operators will continue to let all customers aboard — masked or not — special constables will travel across the transit system and speak with customers who aren't wearing a mask starting Friday, says a city news release sent Tuesday.Those constables will remind mask-less riders to wear one. For those people who continue go disobey the policy, constables could give them a written warning under the city's temporary mask bylaw, and will give them a disposable mask, said the city. Special constables may also ask customers to not enter stations without a mask.And if people are wearing a mask but not properly, like just on the chin, constables will remind them about proper use, said Babe.Won't ask for proof of medical exemptionOC Transpo says it will keep in mind medical conditions and disabilities that may exempt some people from wearing a mask. Those people won't be issued warnings, the city said. Young children will also be exempt."Let's be COVID-kind," Babe said. "If you see someone without a mask, there may be reasons for that." Babe said conversations about exemptions will be done "in private." "We're not going to ask for proof. I mean, we're going to take them at face value. We're going to trust our customers, that they're being honest with us," he said. The city said its bylaw officers have been laying charges since Sept. 17, and enforcement "could be an eventual next step for transit customers."Babe said OC Transpo will start looking at fining people if it finds "a lot of non-compliance" during the two weeks."[The written warning] gives us some tracking," explained Babe. "If we're dealing with the same person multiple times, it gives us an indication. And if we do move to issuing the fines down the line, in the future, it certainly gives the track record."
The Canadian Liberal government experienced a small boost in popularity following the reading of its throne speech, according to a new poll conducted by Ipsos exclusively for Global News.
Families, workers and health-care advocates are wondering how outbreaks in Ottawa's long-term care homes continue to grow, despite the lessons learned during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. "We've been really shocked and appalled by what's going on," said Natalie Mehra, the executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition. "The measures that needed to be put in place — a clear plan, systematic intervention, getting staff into the long-term care homes — just hasn't happened." Once a care home finds one or two cases, that's the time to bring in extra infection control, isolate patients and test quickly, according to Mehra. "None of those things happened in Ottawa," she said of the recent outbreaks.As of Tuesday, 10 of the city's long-term care homes were on Ottawa Public Health's outbreak list. A home is added to that list if it has one or more cases of COVID-19. Half of those homes are run by Extendicare, including West End Villa where at least 130 residents and staff have been infected since Aug. 30.No break from COVID-19So far Jerry O'Brien, a resident of West End Villa, does not have COVID-19, but 83 fellow residents have tested positive, 19 have died and the home is still waiting for the results of 33 tests. "I don't understand why the numbers are still going up," said Sharon O'Brien, Jerry's wife. "I think they're desperately understaffed."During this outbreak at West End Villa, 47 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19."One of the real issues is burnout," said Miranda Ferrier, president of the Ontario Personal Support Workers Association. "We did not have a break from the first [wave of] COVID. We're dealing with a burnt-out workforce. They're going to make mistakes."Staff members at West End Villa tell CBC that during the outbreak, the home has relied on workers from outside agencies. Agency staff go from 'home to home'While the province said employees of long-term care homes could only work in one facility, this directive does not actually apply to agency workers. "Agency staff going from home to home, it is definitely happening," said Ontario Health Coalition's Mehra, and she questions if this is the potential cause of spread throughout the Extendicare homes in Ottawa.In an effort to hang on to the staff members they have, Extendicare is currently paying all its workers time and a half and putting up workers in hotels at the company's expense."We have hired new employees and brought staff in from other areas of the province to replace those sidelined by COVID-19," said Extendicare communications in an email to CBC.'They're cutting corners'At Laurier Manor, another Ottawa Extendicare home, 25 residents died of COVID-19 during an outbreak in the spring. The home is currently in its second outbreak, with 13 residents and seven staff testing positive for COVID-19 since Sept. 1. The Ottawa Hospital has taken over management there, as well as West End Villa.Provincial reports show that inspectors were inside Laurier Manor in May, June and July after complaints. Issues raised included infection control and prevention, the treatment of a COVID-19 patient and staff not properly wearing masks. WATCH | Suzanne Zagallai says it's hard to get information from West End Villa:"If you look at the inspection reports, it's really bad ... It's because they're short staffed there. They're cutting corners and as soon as they do that, they're going to spread infection," said Patricia Spindel with Seniors for Social Action Ontario.But Extendicare said it has enhanced infection prevention control policies for all its homes. In the spring, new directives from the province stated that incoming residents must be "placed in a room with no more than one other resident."But in many of the older homes it will take some time to reach the goal."That's definitely an ongoing issue," said Ferrier with Ontario Personal Support Workers Association. "These homes were built in the day when four beds to a room worked, now it does not. They may not be accepting any new people into the home, but they still have the ones that are still there." Testing backlogLong-term care homes in Ottawa are also having issues with COVID-19 testing."Families are reporting it took days to get tests for their loved ones even in shared rooms with people that were showing symptoms of COVID-19. That should never have happened," said Mehra. Extendicare notes that the testing backlog is a problem."Delays in test results mean delays in accurate cohorting and delays in sending staff home to isolate, leading to greater risk of spread in the meantime," said Extendicare communications.Sharon O'Brien now waits for her own negative test so she can soon become a caregiver to her husband.At West End Villa, managers hold weekly video conferences for families, but O'Brien says she needs to see for herself what conditions are like inside. "It's kind of like talking to politicians," said O'Brien of the video meetings. "Sort of feeling you're not getting a straight answer."
Thousands of families with children signed up for virtual learning with the Toronto District School Board still have not been assigned to their classes, leaving many disillusioned with the board's ability to properly manage the new school year.The TDSB officially started its new virtual school classes on Sept. 22 after multiple delays. The board says that about 97 per cent of the approximately 78,000 virtual school students have been assigned to a class, which suggests that more than 2,000 Toronto students will miss at least two weeks of instruction.Reshma Mathur's two children, in Grades 5 and 8, were among the students left hanging during the delay until they were assigned to classes on Sunday."I think the uncertainty and the lack of communication has been very challenging," Mathur said."We've known about this pandemic since March, so the assumption was that the TDSB was planning and preparing for this situation," she added.Parent Kate Fox-Whyte said the board did not communicate with her family during the two-week period before her daughter was assigned to a class."We just really didn't know what was going on and so it was incredibly stressful," she said.Fox-Whyte's daughter Ivy, entering Grade 2, was devastated after missing the original start date."Ivy cried that morning," Fox-Whyte said. "She wanted to be back in school; they wanted to be with their friends."Other parents who endured delays have raised concerns with the quality of virtual teaching.Classes have been riddled with "lots of confusion, lots of technical difficulties," said Mary Dooley, who has children in senior kindergarten and Grade 2.She said her daughter Sadie's Grade 2 class is consistently falling below the provincially mandated standard of 225 minutes per day of synchronous, or real time, instruction. Dooley said her daughter's class has been receiving between 60 and 120 minutes of synchronous learning per day.Surging enrolment, teacher resignationsThe TDSB has attributed the delays and ongoing struggles in virtual school, which has its own dedicated principals and teachers, primarily to the massive number of students who opted for exclusively online learning this year.Enrolment at the school has steadily grown since the board first revealed its back-to-school plans in late summer. There are an estimated 78,000 students enrolled at the school now, a figure expected to grow by about 4,000 students after Thanksgiving.Board spokesperson Ryan Bird said the fluctuating enrolment numbers have made it difficult to adequately staff the school. He said other factors, including the resignation of some teachers from the virtual school, have also contributed to the delays."While we have had months since the pandemic began to begin preparing, staff only began three, four weeks ago," Bird told CBC Toronto. "We couldn't begin that process until we had our final registration numbers."Bird said work is happening "morning through night" to accommodate students still without a class. The TDSB plans to reassign teachers currently working at physical schools.The board says it expects that all students in its English stream will be assigned to a class by next week. "We have tried our absolute best to give exact dates," Bird cautioned. "And as you know, it hasn't worked out."Students in French immersion and Extended French may be assigned to an English teacher on an interim basis, due to what the board describes as a province-wide shortage of French teachers.
A law passed by the Liberal government to counter racism in the court system and diversify juries is facing a challenge today before Canada's highest court from people who argue the changes undermine the rights of the accused.The Supreme Court of Canada will hear a case this morning involving Pardeep Chouhan, a Greater Toronto Area man charged with first degree murder who is arguing the changes to jury selection infringed on his rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.Bill-C-75 — An Act to Amend the Criminal Code — came into effect on Sept. 19, 2019. The legislation modified the jury selection procedure under the Criminal Code by eliminating the right of Crown and defence to make "peremptory challenges" — to object to a proposed juror without stating a reason.Former Liberal justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould introduced the changes following public outrage over the 2018 trial of Gerald Stanley, a white Saskatchewan farmer who was acquitted of second-degree murder in the shooting death of 22-year-old Indigenous man Colten Boushie.During the jury selection process for Stanley's trial, all visibly Indigenous candidates were challenged and excluded by Stanley's defence team through peremptory challenges.No one will ever know if the trial might have ended differently without peremptory challenges — but Boushie's family lawyer Eleanore Sunchild said eliminating them might have eliminated the perception of bias."It was really disheartening to see every Indigenous juror be challenged and know that they were being challenged simply because they were Indigenous," Sunchild said."I say it's a step back to allow peremptory challenges to stay. It's a step back from eliminating discrimination. There can be no justification for discrimination based on race. None."If the high court quashes the changes to the law, Indigenous people across the country will again be weeded out of jury selection — with significant consequences for Indigenous people in the criminal justice system — warns Toronto-based lawyer Caitlyn Kasper of Aboriginal Legal Services, an intervener arguing in favour of Bill C-75. "It really bars our full participation in the justice system," she said."We have quantifiable real numbers to show that Indigenous people are not being chosen, that they're not being selected. And that it is regardless of what role we're playing through that process."Peremptory challenges necessary, defence lawyer arguesBut others argue the changes hurt an accused person's right to a fair trial."Accused persons are often marginalized or racialized people, and they often have people in society who are unwilling to give them a fair shot," said Dirk Derstine, Chouhan's defence lawyer."I am sympathetic, of course, to the evidence [of discrimination] against Indigenous people, but this is not a situation that is of Mr. Chouhan's making. If Mr. Chouhan needs these in order to be able to get a fair trial, then we say the government should have invented a different way to end any practices which they say were very bad against Native people."Associations representing Asian, Black and Muslim lawyers are intervening in the case, insisting that the abolishment of peremptory challenges specifically affects accused people of colour because they cannot keep people with perceived biases off their juries.Prior to the jury selection process in his trial and before Bill C-75 came into force, Chouhan brought a constitutional challenge to the Criminal Code amendments. Even if the legislation is ruled constitutional, Chouhan argues the amendments should not apply retroactively. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice dismissed the constitutional challenge. The loss meant Chouhan's jury was formed according to the new law. He was found guilty by a jury of first degree murder in the 2016 shooting death of co-worker Maninder Sandhu.The Ontario Court of Appeal unanimously upheld the legislation but ruled the elimination of peremptory challenges should not apply retroactively to all pending cases because it affects an accused's right to trial by jury. The appeal court found the amendment should not have applied to the selection process in Chouhan's case and concluded that the jury was improperly selected. Chouhan's conviction was overturned and a new trial was ordered for fall 2021.The Crown appealed the Court of Appeal's decision and Chouhan is cross-appealing on the issue of the constitutional validity of the Criminal Code amendments.Ottawa-based criminal defence lawyer Leo Russomanno calls the jury selection process in Stanley's trial an outlier."It's our experience, as criminal defence lawyers, that way more often than not, peremptory challenges are used to increase the diversity of juries," said Russomanno, a board member of Defence Counsel Association of Ottawa, which is intervening in the case. In a statement to CBC News, Justice Minister and Attorney General David Lametti's office said Canadians must be confident that juries reflect the communities they serve."Through former Bill C-75, our government made important changes to the jury selection process, including addressing longstanding and well-documented concerns that racialized Canadians were being unfairly excluded by the previous process," said the statement from Lametti's office.
A minor hockey league in Gatineau is putting its season on hold for the next two weeks because of COVID-19.The Aylmer Minor Hockey Association said it's suspending all hockey operations Tuesday, after learning of an outbreak of COVID-19 among participants in a hockey league for adults. "Since many of our volunteer coaches play in this league and in order to protect our young players, their parents and our volunteers, it is with regret that the Aylmer Minor Hockey Association has decided to stop all hockey activities," the league wrote in a Facebook post. The association said the suspension is for activities scheduled until Oct. 20.Two volunteer coaches in the association have also tested positive, the league said.The suspension affects just under a thousand young players at a variety of levels who play for the Aylmer Mariniers.Arena closuresThe decision — announced the same day as a record 66 new COVID-19 cases in western Quebec — follows the one-night closure of two arenas in the Gatineau area days ago.The City of Gatineau said in a press release Friday that it was temporarily closing the Frank-Robinson and Paul-et-Isabelle-Duchesnay arenas in Aylmer for extra cleaning, after users of the arena tested positive for the virus. Activities resumed the next day.Aylmer Minor Hockey Association's suspension of hockey means Janelle Wright's son's hockey season is on pause."My son is sad that hockey is not going to be going for the next couple of weeks," said Wright, whose 13-year-old plays for the Bantam AA team. "He was really excited about hockey restarting, really excited about making the team. But he understands at the same time that the health of people is more important than hockey."Wright said the league is doing everything it can to keep people safe with precautions at the rink, including masks in dressing rooms, sanitization protocols and extra cleaning.But it doesn't surprise her that cases have popped up among people in the hockey community."I always had in the back of my head that this was a possibility and a probability that people would be going to the arenas and eventually there would be cases showing up," she said.
The Fed adopted that approach in September with promises to keep interest rates near zero until its 2% inflation target and full employment are reached. The minutes showed continued worry over weak inflation globally, and a more acute emerging concern that the Trump administration and Congress might fail to deliver the fiscal support many central bankers say is needed – a point hammered home by the collapse in talks this week over a further stimulus bill. It also showed the opening of a debate over possible changes to the Fed’s current $120 billion pace of monthly bond purchases, but only that “some” participants felt it would be appropriate to assess that “in future meetings.”
Recent developments:What's the latest?Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is reporting 117 new COVID-19 cases as testing delays continue. Currently, OPH is able to get test results to residents within 48 hours just 15 per cent of the time.Like Ottawa, western Quebec also recorded its second-highest one-day total of newly confirmed cases on Wednesday with 49.WATCH LIVE | Quebec premier, health officials to give 3 p.m. ET update:Outbreaks in Ottawa's long-term care homes are on the rise again despite the lessons learned during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. WATCH | Daughter says it's been hard to get information:How many cases are there?As of the most recent Ottawa Public Health (OPH) update on Wednesday, 4,970 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19.That includes 810 known active cases, 3,865 resolved cases and 295 deaths.Overall, public health officials have reported more than 7,500 cases of COVID-19 across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, with nearly 6,000 of those cases considered resolved.COVID-19 has killed 104 people in the region outside Ottawa: 52 people have died in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark counties, 34 in the Outaouais and 18 in other parts of eastern Ontario. What's open and closed?Health officials are telling people to see fewer people in person, or stricter rules will force them to.Ontario is telling people to limit close contact only to those living in their own household or one other home if people live alone.Ottawa's medical officer of health said late last week the entire health-care system is on the verge of collapse and is advising people to celebrate Thanksgiving only with members of their immediate household. Other areas with different COVID-19 situations may have different advice from their health units.Visits to long-term care homes in Ottawa are restricted to essential visitors and one caregiver at a time as of today.People who refuse to wear a mask on OC Transpo buses and trains without a valid reason will get a written warning as part of a two-week blitz starting Friday.Western Quebec's health authority says residents need to stop gathering until the end of October or, like Montreal and Quebec, people won't be allowed to see anyone they don't live with.The region is currently on orange alert, which means private and organized gathering limits, earlier closing hours for restaurants and recommendations against travelling to other regions.What about schools?There have been more than 150 schools in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region with a confirmed case of COVID-19:Few have had outbreaks, which are declared by a health unit in Ontario when there's a reasonable chance someone who has tested positive caught COVID-19 during a school activity.Ontario updated its COVID-19 school symptom rules last week.Distancing and isolatingThe novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes or speaks onto someone or something.People can be contagious without symptoms.This means people should take precautions like working from home, keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean, socializing outdoors as much as possible and maintaining distance from anyone you don't live with — even when you have a mask on.Masks are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec and recommended outdoors when people can't stay the proper distance from others.Anyone with symptoms should self-isolate, so should anyone told to by a public health unit. If Ottawans don't, they face a fine of up to $5,000 per day in court.Kingston's medical officer of health said people living with someone waiting for a test result now do not need to self-isolate and someone with COVID-19 now has to isolate for at least 10 days from the day they first experience symptoms, down from 14 days.Most people with a confirmed COVID-19 case in Quebec can end their self-isolation after 10 days under certain conditions.Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible. Anyone who has travelled recently outside Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days.What are the symptoms of COVID-19?COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and the loss of taste or smell. Less common symptoms include chills, headaches and pink eye. Children can develop a rash.Getting tested any sooner than five days after potential exposure may not be useful since the virus may not yet be detectable, says OPH.If you have severe symptoms, call 911.Where to get testedIn eastern Ontario:The Ontario government recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, or if you've been told to by your health unit or the province because of your work.Anyone seeking a test there should now book an appointment. Most of Ottawa's testing happens at four permanent sites, with additional mobile sites wherever demand is particularly high.There is limited walk-up capacity and telephone booking for some sites for people without internet access and priority groups such as health-care workers.Its Coventry Road clinic will be closed on Monday.People without symptoms, but who are part of the province's targeted testing strategy, can make an appointment at select Ottawa pharmacies.In the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, the Limoges drive-thru centre reopens today but isn't ready to take appointments until Friday.The health unit also has sites in Alexandria, Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Rockland and Winchester. All are closed on Monday.In Kingston, the city's test site is now at the Beechgrove Complex and online booking isn't available yet. For now, people are asked to go to the complex to make an appointment.Napanee's test centre is open daily for people who call ahead.People can arrange a test in Bancroft and Picton by calling the centre or Belleville and Trenton online.The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls. It also has a pop-up site in Gananoque Thursday.Renfrew County residents should call their family doctor. Those without access to a family doctor can call 1-844-727-6404 for a test or if they have health questions, COVID-19-related or not.People can also visit the health unit's website to find out where testing clinics will be taking place each week.In western Quebec:Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau seven days a week at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 avenue Buckingham.They can now check the approximate wait time for the Saint-Raymond site.There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Gracefield, Val-des-Monts and Fort-Coulonge.They can call 1-877-644-4545 if they have other questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby.Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms or who have been in contact with someone with symptoms. People without symptoms can also get a test.First Nations, Inuit and Métis:Akwesasne has a mobile COVID-19 test site available by appointment only.Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who's been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.Inuit in Ottawa can also call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.People in Pikwakanagan can book an appointment for a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-2259. Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603 to talk to a nurse.For more information
The St. Thomas University men's soccer program is at risk of not being able to field a team next year, according to head coach John-Ryan Morrison. For the team to survive, Morrison said he needs to recruit 15 new players for next season. "I just hope we have a team next year to be honest," said Morrison. "Right now it's still up in the air."Because of the pandemic, Morrison said some recruits who were going to play this year have opted out. Some decided to go to other schools, and others have deferred for the year. The Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association, the conference in which the St. Thomas Tommies play, announced in the summer that there would be no league play and no championship for soccer in 2020. Teams would still be allowed to practice, as long as they followed provincial and university guidelines. But Morrison said St. Thomas University gave his team the green light to practice too late.The university told Morrison in mid August that he couldn't start practices until Sept. 15th."It was certainly... a huge kick in the butt for sure," said Morrison.Most of Morrison's team is from outside Atlantic Canada, and only two of his players are in Fredericton. "In June if I could've told the guys, 'yes we'll be training Sept. 1st. You have to be here (Aug. 15) to self isolate.' Then I would've had most of my team here," said Morrison."By the time STU told us that we could train, and it wasn't until Sept. 15, by then it was just too late."Morrison said the players would also have to take on the financial challenge of living in residence, even though there aren't any in-person classes.Mike Eagles, athletic director for St. Thomas University, confirmed that many students from outside the region stayed home and the university respects their decision to do so."It is concerning that we have a small contingent for men's soccer," said Eagles in an emailed statement.But Eagles is hopeful the team can still bring in enough players for next season. "We know that COVID could play a part in the decision of these athletes to return next year and for incoming recruits in the future. Hopefully, our veteran players will return and we will be able to recruit enough new players into our program to fill the roster." Across the hillCollege Hill isn't completely devoid of soccer this year. The UNB Reds were able to bring players in and start practices in August. The Reds play in a different league than the Tommies, but Reds coach Barry Morrison agreed to let STU's two local players train with the team. The Reds have been playing games with modified rules against local club teams.Ravtej Singh is training with the Reds, and would be going into his second year with the Tommies. He's been missing having his friends on campus, and games to look forward to. "It's like a part that goes missing. We're a community here. We're a small school and we're all just together all the time," said Singh."It's like there's no one here right now."Other east coast teams such as Holland College and UNB Saint John have been able to hold practices and train with players as well. Recruiting 15 new playersJohn-Ryan Morrison said he recruits a lot from outside of the province, and the pandemic is making that a challenge."There's a lot of schools with soccer programs in Atlantic Canada and not that many players right now that are capable of competing at that level," said Morrison. "So I go to Ontario and I go to B.C. and I go internationally to find those players that want a good education and to play for a playoff team."Morrison said it will be difficult because he won't be able to meet the players in-person and they won't be able to visit Fredericton.And even if he does get enough recruits, it will take a lot of work to make the team competitive. "If we can find enough players, it will basically be an entirely new team," said Morrison. This would've been Morrison's sixth season coaching the team. His team has finished second in the league twice, and bottom of the league twice. But over the past two years the team has been able to make playoffs. Morrison is hopeful he can get the players he needs, and continue the program's momentum."We are optimistic that we're going to have a strong squad in 2021 and it's just a lot of work that's going to have to go into recruiting between now and then," said Morrison.
The legal cost of defending Liberal cabinet minister Seamus O'Regan in a small claims court defamation case launched by a veterans advocate has now topped $213,500, according to a document tabled in the Senate.The figure, compiled by Justice Minister David Lametti's office, was released recently by Sen. Marc Gold, the government's representative in the Senate, following an exchange last spring with Conservative Sen. Don Plett.It captures the cost of litigation and support services delivered by the government lawyers and staff who worked on the lawsuit launched two years ago by Sean Bruyea, a former air force intelligence officer. Bruyea claimed O'Regan — who was the Veterans Affairs minister at the time — defamed him in a February 2018 opinion piece in The Hill Times, a parliamentary precinct publication.The federal government agreed last June to settle the lawsuit, which originally asked for $25,000. The final settlement was paid last week. The terms were not disclosed to the public and the payment to Bruyea was not factored into the Department of Justice's estimate of the costs.'This was not a frivolous claim'"I'm floored," Plett said Tuesday in an interview with CBC News. "I feel the government has to defend itself against frivolous claims. This was not a frivolous claim. This person was defamed by a minister and the government spent almost ten times the original claim to defend against it."Had the government "negotiated in good faith, this could have been dealt with honourably," he added.Plett said the disclosure of the figure makes him wonder how much the current government spent fighting other "questionable" high-profile cases — such as the criminal case against former vice-admiral Mark Norman, which concluded with the Crown staying the single breach of trust charge filed against the ex-commander of the navy.As of last December, the federal government acknowledged spending $1.4 million on prosecuting Norman, who was accused of leaking cabinet secrets. But that sum does not include the cost of the RCMP's investigation, the former senior military officer's settlement and the cost of covering his legal fees.The government also has racked up legal costs fighting other veterans in court — most recently former corporal Charles Scott, whose Veterans Affairs case file was mishandled on at least two occasions.Plett said it's a disturbing pattern for a government that came to power five years ago arguing that no veteran should have to fight the federal government in court.A spokesperson for O'Regan, who is now natural resources minister, would not comment."A settlement has been reached in this case. In keeping with the settlement, we will not be commenting further," said Ian Cameron.Bruyea said he was surprised by the amount of public money spent on fighting his case."What? Really?" he said, adding he was astonished by what he called "the lengths the government will go to, with other Canadians' money, to avoid saying 'I'm sorry, I was wrong.'"His lawsuit stemmed from a Feb. 26, 2018 column written by O'Regan and printed in the Hill Times, a twice-weekly publication that covers Parliament.The minister's piece was a rebuttal to an article by Bruyea published two weeks prior about the Liberal government's plan to offer veterans the option of taking either a pension for life or a lump sum payment for injuries sustained in the line of duty.In his original opinion piece, Bruyea compared the old pension system, enacted by the former Conservative government, with the overhauled one put in place by the Liberals that came into effect on April 1, 2019.Backing up his claims with data, Bruyea said "the numbers don't add up." He argued that the pain and suffering compensation for ex-soldiers is "grossly unfair" and that disability claims had become "miserly."O'Regan responded with his own column saying it was time for a "reality check" and arguing that "individuals like Sean Bruyea" are stating "mistruths about Pension for Life ... to suit their own agenda."A federal government statement released last June said that by agreeing to the settlement, neither the minister nor the federal government "admit any liability or wrongdoing."