It was supposed to be a dream vacation.Taylor Jones had purchased two round-trip tickets to Orlando, Fla., to visit Disneyworld — a surprise birthday and graduation present for his girlfriend Marissa Lyne-Boehm."We're both big kids at heart," said Lyne-Boehm, as Jones chuckled in agreement.But then, the flights were cancelled by WestJet due to the pandemic, signalling the beginning of a four-month battle to get a refund of the more than $1,000 spent on tickets instead of receiving a travel credit.In the wake of COVID-19, the airline industry has been rocked, with many companies opting to offer credit instead of refunds despite that being illegal in B.C., Canada and the United States.Consumer complaintsThe tickets were purchased in February before the pandemic. But as the virus spread, international borders closed, travel bans were enacted and the airline industry saw mass cancellations.In June, Jones began to contact WestJet, first through an agent at Expedia, where he had purchased the package, then independently. Each time, he says he was told to call back at a closer date to the trip and the refund would be issued.A week before the Sept. 27 departure date, Jones received an email that the trip was officially cancelled, but when he called to request a refund, he says he was told that WestJet would only provide WestJet Dollars — travel credits with a 24-month expiration date."This is tough times for everybody. [I've been] trying to be understanding," said Jones. "I really tried to work with them, but it just felt like a big betrayal."And the couple isn't alone in their frustration. The Canadian Transportation Agency [CTA] says it has received almost 11,000 complaints since mid-March.Although it hasn't been able to categorize all the grievances yet, it said "we expect a portion of these will relate to vouchers and refunds."Airlines aren't above the law: advocateThe rules on flight refunds are clear in both Canadian and American law."WestJet's position is based on the misconception that somehow the airline can override the law," said Gábor Lukács, an air passenger rights advocate, who points to B.C.'s Consumer Protection Act as the first line of defence.It says that if a contract is cancelled, the supplier has 15 days to issue a refund after the notice of the cancellation.As well, Canada's Air Passenger Protection Regulations says that if an airline is unable to provide a reasonable alternative itinerary, refunds "must be paid by the method used for the original payment and to the person who purchased the ticket or additional service."Finally, by law, WestJet must follow the rules set out by the U.S. Department of Transportation [DOT] because the round-trip flights travelled either to or from the country."Airlines must obey the law. If they don't like the law, they can lobby parliament to change the law. Until the law is changed, they have to obey the laws as they are today," said Lukács.In April, the DOT issued an enforcement notice to all air carriers operating in the U.S. that reinforced the rules."The longstanding obligation of carriers to provide refunds for flights that carriers cancel or significantly delay does not cease when the flight disruptions are outside of the carrier's control," it said.Keeping the cash and the customerIt's no secret that the airline industry is currently in crisis mode. There have been massive layoffs at the Vancouver International Airport, regional airports are pleading for federal aid and, earlier this week, WestJet retreated from Atlantic Canada."I think it's dire ... is the simple word," said David Gillen, YVR professor of transportation policy at the University of British Columbia.He says there are a few simple reasons why airlines choose to offer credits over refunds, chief among them: cash flow."Airlines operate on cash flow. This allows them to keep the cash," he said.As well, it allows the airlines to keep the customer."If the customer has WestJet dollars, rather than Canadian dollars, then they don't have the freedom to spend it on other activities."In a statement to CBC News, WestJet said its decision to offer credits is backed up by CTA's announcement that airlines can temporarily offer credits due to the pandemic.But the CTA clarified that it was a suggestion to airlines, adding that anyone unhappy with a refund could file a complaint."To be clear, it did not relieve any airline otherwise obligated to pay refunds from doing so," it wrote in a statement.While WestJet believes it is covered for Canadian flights, it did say that it is in the process of offering some refunds."We have been processing refunds to the original form of payment for guests holding some international itineraries that were cancelled by WestJet due to the COVID-19 crisis," it wrote.Fortunately, Jones and Lyne-Boehm would appear to fit that criteria, however, when asked if they would be issued a refund, WestJet failed to respond."It's not the consumer's responsibility to help bail them out on this and the fact that they didn't even give us an option was even more frustrating," said Lyne-Boehm.Now, the couple will continue to wait and fight for their refund.CBC Vancouver's Impact Team investigates and reports on stories that impact people in their local community and strives to hold individuals, institutions and organizations to account. 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The U.S. Justice Department said on Friday it has scheduled the first federal execution of a woman in almost 70 years, setting a Dec. 8 date to put to death Lisa Montgomery, convicted of a 2004 murder. Montgomery, who was found guilty of strangling a pregnant woman in Missouri, will be executed by lethal injection at U.S. Penitentiary Terre Haute, Indiana, the department said in a statement. The last woman to be executed by the U.S. government was Bonnie Heady, who was put to death in a gas chamber in Missouri in 1953, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
A Hong Kong protester dubbed "Grandma Wong" said on Saturday that Chinese authorities kept her in custody for a month and a half across the border in Shenzhen, where she allegedly suffered mental abuse, and then prevented from coming back for over a year. Grey-haired and bespectacled Alexandra Wong, 64, had been a familiar face at anti-government protests in Hong Kong last year, often waving a large British flag, but she disappeared from the streets around August last year. Speaking to media for the first time since her release after completing 14 days in quarantine, Wong said she had been detained by Chinese police when she tried to return to her home in Shenzhen on August 14, 2019.
About 8,000 people landed in Hawaii on the first day of a pre-travel testing program that allowed travelers to come to the islands without quarantining for two weeks if they could produce a negative coronavirus test. (Oct. 16)
TORONTO — Two Toronto-area school boards are changing their online learning plans, saying the moves will simplify the logistical nightmare presented by a growing number of students who want to avoid brick-and-mortar schools. The Toronto District School Board on Friday delayed the next chance for elementary students to switch between online and in-class learning from November to January, while the Peel District School Board said it would switch its high schoolers to a "hybrid" model of learning that will see in-person students and their remote-learning peers taught lessons together. Thousands of elementary students at the TDSB just switched between online and in-class learning earlier this week, following a Sept. 30 registration deadline, said spokesman Ryan Bird, forcing the province's largest school board to completely rearrange classes and reassign teachers. "This reorganization process literally slammed everything else in the board to an absolute halt while you have dozens of central staff working on this realignment, this reorganization alone," he said. "And we realized a month after just doing it, we couldn't then just do it again." Bird said the goal is to restore some "stability" to schools, after 7,500 elementary students went from learning in-class to learning remotely this month, while 3,000 students who had been learning from home moved to the classroom. "This is about not only the stability for the system, but also the mental health and well-being of our students and staff. We didn't want them changing a teacher one month in, and then another month in they have to change to another teacher," he said. The deadline for the first opportunity for high school students with the TDSB to switch between online and in-class learning had been set for yesterday, but Bird said that has been put on hold while the board figures out how best to approach the impending change. He didn't say whether the hybrid model, to be adopted by the Peel board, is among those in consideration. In an email to staff Friday, the directors of the PDSB announced it had little choice but to switch to the hybrid model, because the portion of high school students who chose online learning jumped from 26.4 per cent to 44.6 per cent. "Our current PDSB Online School structure will not be able to support this enrolment increase," the email obtained by The Canadian Press reads. "With a decrease of in-person learning, our bricks-and-mortar secondary schools also won’t have enough students to offer a full breadth of courses for Quadmester 2." The directors said they made the "difficult decision to reassign the students and staff currently in the PDSB Online School back to their home schools, and move to a new hybrid learning model, effective Nov. 18. "Students will continue to attend classes through their chosen learning model (online or adaptive learning), but they will all be taught simultaneously by the same teacher from their home school," they wrote. The board said the hybrid model balances flexibility and stability, allowing students to switch between online and in-class learning without needing to reorganize classes and reassign teachers. A similar change took effect earlier this week at the York Catholic District School Board's elementary schools. But some teachers and the head of the union that represents many of the province's high school teachers have criticized the model, saying that teaching online and in-person require different approaches. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 16, 2020. Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press
New Brunswick should further seal the Atlantic bubble by eliminating blanket quarantine exemptions for those who work outside the province, say two epidemiologists who have been following the success of the bubble. "You've got a good set-up, don't mess it up," said Raywat Deonandan, a global-health epidemiologist and an associate professor at the University of Ottawa. Infection control epidemiologist Colin Furness had similar advice."If you keep that policy in place, you're going to see cases."But how can New Brunswickers know what to think?Private informationA travelling worker is one possible source of the outbreak in Moncton at the Manoir Notre-Dame special care home, where 19 people — residents, workers and family members — tested positive for COVID-19 the first week. And the public isn't being told how the outbreak started. Citing privacy, Dr. Jennifer Russell, the chief medical officer of health, has refused to divulge the nature of the transmission at Manoir Notre-Dame, including whether it began with a traveller who didn't self-isolate properly or with a travelling worker who was exempt from self-isolation.Without having to self-isolate, an infected traveller could have gone about his or her business and unknowingly infected someone who then visited the special care home. Deonandan said it's important for the public to know how the Moncton outbreak began so that people can adjust their behaviour if necessary. Knowing will help prevent repeating it in the future, he said. "There is something to be said for making public the mechanism of transmission so that people understand the seriousness of it," said Deonandan. He said it's a balancing act that Public Health has to master — between protecting the public at large versus protecting an individual's privacy. "I'm sympathetic to Public Health's job here, but if you were to ask me, I would err on the side of being transparent about the pathway of infection."Graphic transparencyOttawa Public Health has been more forthcoming — and graphic — with the information it releases. The belief is that the public should fully understand how not following the rules can impact so many. A recent graphic tracks the spread after a person with mild symptoms attended a wedding in September, where there were no masks and no physical distancing.Fifteen days later, 207 people were self-isolating and required testing. There were 22 confirmed cases and one presumptive. That outbreak from a single case at a wedding infected eight households — including five members of one home — a school, and a group home. It also forced the self-isolation of students in a second school because of a presumptive case. "Kids missed school, their parents couldn't work & testing lines were longer. Our. Actions. Matter," stated the tweet. All of that information was released publicly, said Katie Bourada, a registered nurse who does communications for Ottawa Public Health.She said the intent is to educate the public and illustrate how one person can affect hundreds of others by not following the rules. Doctor shares good newsRussell has been asked at recent briefings how the virus got into the Manoir Notre-Dame, but has only ever said it's travel-related. She said the only reason she shared that information was because it was good news — it means the case wasn't community-transmission, which would mean they don't know the cause. Russell hasn't always taken such a firm position. For months, she announced almost every new case by saying it was travel-related and the person was self-isolating.But not in the case of the Manoir Notre-Dame. Reporters have never asked Russell to identify the person, only to describe what the person did wrong.As recently as Friday, the Department of Health was asked to clarify the source and specify whether someone hadn't properly self-isolated.Public gets what's 'pertinent'Department spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane responded by email on Friday afternoon, saying Russell had provided what the public needs to know and has been as transparent as possible, while protecting private information. "Throughout this pandemic, Public Health always provided the pertinent information the public needs to take measures to protect themselves," Macfarlane wrote. Public Health's stance, which is backed by Premier Blaine Higgs and three other political party leaders, doesn't address whether the public is getting enough information to know if government measures to protect people are adequate. More knowledge about the Moncton outbreak, for instance, might help the public consider the travelling worker exemptions.Higgs dropped requirements in June for people to self-isolate after returning to New Brunswick from working in parts of Canada outside the Atlantic bubble.But even a returning worker who doesn't have to self-isolate isn't supposed to visit any kind of long-term care facility. The province's rules say they have to "avoid contact with vulnerable individuals." Deonandan said blanket exemptions such as those given to travelling workers are risky. > Parents had to miss work, kids had to miss school & 105 more people in line for testing. All from a BBQ. Our actions matter \- Ottawa Public Health"You want a bowl, not a sieve," he said. "You want a solid barrier with controlled access, not leaky borders that introduce potential super-spreading events."Furness called the exemptions "reckless." In fact, he said, there's an argument to be made that travel for work is even more dangerous than travelling to visit family. Travelling for work usually involves taxis, staying in hotels, eating in restaurants. And if it includes air travel, the risks are even greater, he said. "Travel for work is one risk after another, all piled on top. If anything, I might suggest that people should be more compelled to self-isolate." Self-isolation done incorrectly is another possible source of the Notre-Dame outbreak.Regardless of what the local rules are for travellers when they return home, Furness said people should self-isolate for 14 days. Ideally, they would leave their car at the airport and avoid contact with taxi drivers and even family members. He said they should also really take self-isolation seriously — that means absolutely no contact with anyone else. For those who live with others, it can become tricky, especially with shared bathrooms and confined spaces. If contact can't be avoided, the entire household should self-isolate, he said. 7 days better than noneFurness acknowledges the financial and mental health toll that such an approach can take. At the very least, he said strict self-isolation should last seven days. "There might be an argument for lessening the quarantine period," he said. After all, he said, the majority of people who catch COVID-19, show symptoms within the first seven days. The second week acts as an extra precaution to catch all possible cases. "If the current guidance says don't isolate at all, then seven days is infinitely better," said Furness.And, regardless of what rules are in place, travellers should "not go visit grandma."What happened at a barbecue"You need to think about your obligation to people around you. And that's where going above and beyond guidance would be a good idea."The stakes are just too high, he said. After all, according to another graphic from Ottawa Public Health, this is what community transmission looks like: "a 40-person BBQ in a park led to 105 high-risk contacts in schools who had to self-isolate for 14 days & be tested. Parents had to miss work, kids had to miss school & 105 more people in line for testing. All from a BBQ. Our actions matter."That, too, was a real case, with all of the details shared by public health officials.
A white Grande Prairie surgeon denies he targeted a Black surgical assistant in June 2016 by tying a noose and then taping it to the operating room door at Grande Prairie's Queen Elizabeth II Hospital. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Wynand Wessels told a disciplinary hearing of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta on Friday the noose was intended to symbolize a team-building exercise similar to one he engaged in while he was a boy scout growing up in rural South Africa. Wessels, through his lawyer, admitted creating the noose and he admitted it was a breach of the college's code of conduct. But he strongly denied the noose was intended to be racist or to target or intimidate any person or group. Testifying under oath, the surgeon said that because of restrictions placed on outside media by the South African government, he grew up not knowing the North American significance of the noose as a symbol to terrorize and intimidate Black people by evoking lynching. The noose in South Africa, Wessels said, doesn't carry the same racist connotation as it does in other places. He said the noose was an attempt at humour. "It was light-hearted; it was nothing sinister," he said. The surgeon denied he told colleague Dr. Scott Wiens — shortly after he taped the noose to the door — that it was aimed at Dr. Oduche Onwuanyi, a Nigerian-born Black surgical assistant. Wessels' lawyer, James Heelan, led evidence in which Wessels described a dysfunctional culture at the Grande Prairie hospital, particularly among the orthopedic surgeons. He said the surgeons had split into two fractious camps, with one led by the two surgeons — doctors Wiens and Tosin Akinbiyi — who formally complained about the noose. Wessels described a strained relationship with Wiens. He accused Wiens of creating "discord" at the hospital and claimed Wiens frequently engaged in a "deliberate attempt to undermine" any new practices. And he said Onwuanyi did not appear to be "aggressively unhappy" about the incident when Wessels approached him later that day. Incident repeatedly reported to health officials Onwuanyi, Wiens, and Akinbiyi could not contradict Wessels' version of events. The college did not call them as witnesses. Nor did they summon any other staff with direct knowledge of the incident or the culture at the hospital. Heelan and others involved in the hearing mispronounced Onwuanyi's name throughout the proceeding, often in several different ways. The college did not immediately respond to questions about these issues. Onwuanyi earlier this week declined an interview request from CBC News and he did not watch today's hearing, which was conducted remotely due to the pandemic. In July, CBC News first published a story about the noose incident. In an interview, Wiens said Wessels had told him the noose was meant for Onwuanyi. Wiens photographed the noose on the door, removed it and, along with a colleague, complained to hospital administration. Friday's hearing came after what sources have described as years of inaction by the hospital's administration, Alberta Health Services (AHS) and the college, who were repeatedly told about the incident. In August 2019, a doctor reported the incident to Health Minister Tyler Shandro, but said she heard nothing back. After CBC News contacted Shandro for comment, the minister ordered a third-party independent investigation into AHS' handling of the incident, maintaining department officials repeatedly assured him the health authority and the CPSA were separately handling the matter. Noose part of 'inside joke' about work environment: surgeon Wessels on Friday testified that while at the hospital on the morning of June 24, 2016, a nurse complained to him about the lack of teamwork and discipline among the orthopedic surgery group. During the conversation, Wessels said, he began playing with a piece of rope on a nearby medical cart, eventually fashioning it into the noose. He likened the noose to a lasso-like knot used in the boy scouts to tie together children who refused to work together. He said he explained this to the nurse, which she confirmed in a statement to the college's investigator. Wessels admitted he subsequently taped the noose to the operating room door. Both he and his lawyer, James Heelan, repeatedly characterized this action as part of an "inside joke" between Wessels and the nurse about the lack of collaboration among staff. The surgeon did not explain why he then taped it in a place where others could clearly see it — including Onwuanyi, who Wessels admitted he knew was one of two doctors working that day in that specific operating room. Wessels also admitted under cross-examination that he knew, even while studying as a medical student in South Africa, that the noose was used to execute prisoners there. He said he has since educated himself on the racist history of the noose. During the hearing, Wessels' lawyer repeatedly characterized the noose as a "lasso," despite the fact Wessels himself referred to it as a "small rope noose" in a 2016 apology letter and often called it a noose during Friday's hearing. Wessels testified that when Wiens saw the noose and asked if it was for Onwuanyi, he replied that it was for anyone who was misbehaving, including Onwuanyi. Shortly after, colleagues pointed out the racist and violent symbolism of the noose, at which point he went to hospital administration, he said. Wessels testified a local Alberta Health Services executive told him that to "close" the matter he had to write a letter of apology to the two doctors — Wiens and Akinbiyi — who were concerned about the noose, which he did. Surgical assistant said he perceived noose as a threat Wessels did not apologize to Onwuanyi because he said his colleague generally accepted his explanation that it wasn't racist, and was not meant to target him. But the hearing's chair read from a letter Onwuanyi sent to the college's associate complaints director in which Onwuanyi said, "I did not have an open discussion with Dr. Wessels regarding this incident." Onwuanyi replied to a college investigator's question about how he perceived the noose by saying he thought it was "a threat, a racial insult, a slur directed at Black persons" that was meant to intimidate and symbolize a threat to life. "It was also seen as a hangman's noose, the main object used in segregation-era lynching, and was an illegal object internationally." At one point during the hearing, the chair asked Wessels if he recognized any "real or perceived power imbalance" between himself and Onwuanyi, the surgical assistant. "I do not really see the power imbalance," Wessels replied, saying the two work as a team and "I am definitely not above him." Craig Boyer, the lawyer who presented the college's case, told the hearing the noose may have been directed at Wiens rather than Onwuanyi, despite the fact there was no evidence in the agreed exhibit book or testimony from Wessels that supported this theory. Since Wessels has admitted he breached the college's code of conduct, the hearing panel will only need to decide what, if any, penalty he should receive. The all-white, three-person panel will issue a written decision but it gave no indication of when. Wessels' lawyer downplayed the incident as a "foolish joke for which Dr. Wessels is paying a significant price." If you have information for this story, or information for another story, please contact us in confidence at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When Cheryl Shellenberg checked in on her horse Jonesy as she was racing him to a veterinarian, he was dead in his trailer, his eyes rolled back and his tongue sticking out. The 18-year-old quarter horse had died in agony of colic as Shellenberg, 62, was stuck in Powell River, B.C., waiting in line to get on a ferry across the Salish Sea to Comox on a Sunday morning in late September. "I felt terrible that I'd let him suffer," Shellenberg said, choking up. "Had I known this was how his life was going to end, I would have got somebody out on Saturday with a gun and we would have shot him."For Shellenberg and others on the Sunshine Coast, a bullet to the head is the most humane emergency care they can access for their horses. The Society of B.C. Veterinarians says there has been a shortage of veterinarians throughout the province for years, but the issue has gotten worse during the pandemic as more people take in new pets and COVID-19 protocols restrict the number of people inside clinics. "We know for sure that animals are suffering for lack of veterinary care," said Corey Van't Haaff, the society's executive director. "And we know for sure they're dying."The problem is most acute in rural areas, but urban pet owners have noticed it as well. Some veterinarians in Vancouver are reporting wait times of up to six weeks. 'We're busier than ever'Inside Dr. Rob Ashburner's 900-square-foot clinic near the intersection of Cambie Street and King Edward Avenue, veterinary technicians and assistants dodge a 12-pound tabby named Hugo as they take calls, set out treats and ensure all their supplies are stocked in time for the first appointment of the day. "We're busier than ever," Ashburner said, standing in the examining room at the West King Edward Animal Clinic."From a business point of view, that's good. But we feel badly because our patients go without proper care, or have to delay care."Most of Ashburner's patients have to wait about two weeks for an appointment. Urgent matters are referred to the emergency hospital, which costs more. Ashburner says he would love to hire another veterinarian for his clinic, but in B.C. that task is "almost impossible." According to a report the Society of B.C. Veterinarians commissioned two years ago, there is a growing shortage of about 100 vets each year in B.C.To help solve the problem, Ashburner and other veterinarians want the Ministry of Advanced Education to pay for more spots for B.C. students at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon — the closest place in Canada where B.C students are eligible to train. 20 new spots availableCurrently, the province pays the college for 20 B.C. students each year at a cost of about $2 million. The students pay $11,000 for each year of the four-year program.Twenty new spots became available this fall because Alberta has chosen to invest more in its own program, for Albertan students, freeing its seats up. But B.C. declined to take advantage of the opportunity, choosing instead to renew its current level of funding. The ministry said it couldn't comment on the situation because of the upcoming election. Van't Haaf says she has tried for at least two years to meet with Melanie Mark, the minister of advanced education in the last government, but said Mark did not return her calls. "We did not understand why she would not provide these extra seats for very necessary veterinarians," Van't Haaf said. Some of the extra spots did get taken up by 16 students from B.C., Ashburner says, but because they're not funded students need to pay about $60,000 in annual tuition. Ashburner says not only is that unfair, it's unsustainable because the average salary for veterinarians in B.C. is about $85,000 per year.The society is looking at other avenues to attract more veterinarians to the province. One of them is making it easier for foreign-trained vets to become accredited here. But for Ashburner and his colleagues, funding more training and taking advantage of the 20 new spots at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine is one of the clearest solutions available. "We as veterinarians feel the shortage is a very correctable problem," he said.
The NDP has said John Horgan's plan to move B.C. forward will save an average family of four an additional $3,400 a year — but when pressed, Horgan was unable to say how many families would actually benefit."We're confident that on average, there's going to be significant savings for families, not just this year, but in the years going forward," said Horgan Friday morning at yet another campaign stop n Pitt Meadows, the swing riding the party is hoping to hold. "Government should be focusing every day on bringing costs down for people. I think we've done that over the past three and a half years, and we want to do more going forward."The NDP trumpeted the $3,400 figure in a news release, adding up the following election commitments: * A one-time $1,000 COVID-19 recovery rebate. * The effects of freezing rent increases in 2021. * Free transit for children under 12.However, those benefits assume a family of four with two kids, renting a place and earning $60-$80,000 a year (since the renter's rebate and COVID-19 recovery rebate are capped by income) and owning a car while also using public transit. According to the Canadian Rental Housing, around four per cent of households in B.C. are couples who rent with children — and according to 2016 census figures, slightly more than half of those couples would meet the income level required to benefit from the NDP's promised rebates.The per cent of those households who would see a rent increase in 2021 without a government-imposed freeze — with children between five and 12 who currently pay for transit — is unknown. What are the other parties promising?The B.C. Liberals have promised to eliminate the PST for a year, afterwards cutting it in half — but have not made broad promises on how much "average" families would save under their election promises.On Friday, the party unveiled its housing affordability plan, promising $1.75 billion in spending over three years to increase supply, creating an incentive fund for cities that see increased construction and ensuring no net loss of rental units in redevelopment projects. At the same time, the party said it would eliminate the speculation tax on vacant homes, replacing it with a capital gains tax on "condo-flipping."The party promised to speak with CBC News about its housing affordability plan but did not return calls by deadline. The B.C. Green Party has also not created projected savings for the "average family" under its platform, but says it will introduce a rental supplement that will apply to people with low and middle income earners paying more than 30 per cent of their income in rent.In addition, the Greens are promising to make the $300/month increase to disability and welfare rates prompted by COVID-19 permanent, indexing them to inflation in the future, and creating a free child-care plan for all working parents with children under three.
Katherine Brittain, whose ex-husband shot and killed four people in Penticton, B.C., remains "shocked and saddened" by the crimes and had no idea he would resort to murder, a statement from her lawyer said.John Brittain pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder Wednesday for the April 2019 shootings. On Thursday, he was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. B.C. Supreme Court heard that John believed his victims — Rudi Winter, Darlene Knippelberg and Susan and Barry Wonch — had been harassing his estranged wife for years.Katherine's lawyer, Michael Welsh, released a statement on her behalf saying despite unfounded rumours, she had no knowledge John would take the lives of the four neighbours, never suggested he kill them and never wished harm upon them."She was and remains devastated and appalled by these killings," the statement read."Mr. Brittain's actions destroyed the lives of the families of the victims and Ms. Brittain's own life. She cannot fathom how he could ever believe that, in taking these lives, he was somehow helping her. "That he did so, thinking he was acting on her behalf, is a burden she will carry her whole life."John and Katherine Brittain divorced in 2014, the statement said.The statement noted Katherine had bylaw disputes with two neighbours but they were being handled through the proper channels.The statement said she was "terrorized" and her property was vandalized following the shootings.She is speaking out now, the statement said, because court proceedings are complete.Read the statement:Ms. Brittain remains shocked and saddened by the actions of John Brittain, whom she divorced in January 2014. Despite groundless rumours, she wishes the community to know that she never wished any harm to any of the deceased victims. She had no prior knowledge that Mr. Brittain intended to kill anyone, and never suggested that he do so. She was and remains devastated and appalled by these killings. The problems she had reported to the City of Penticton of two neighbours violating city bylaws were ones she was dealing with through proper channels with the city. She never wanted Mr. Brittain to be involved, and never imagined he could act as he did. Mr. Brittain's actions destroyed the lives of the families of the victims, and Ms. Brittain's own life. She cannot fathom how he could ever believe that, in taking these lives, he was somehow helping her. That he did so, thinking he was acting on her behalf, is a burden she will carry her whole life . The judge at his sentencing hearing this week stated she accepted as fact that no one, which includes Ms. Brittain, had any idea that Mr. Brittain would do what he did. As was acknowledged by Mr. Brittain in court, my client is also a victim of his actions. She has been terrorized, and her property has been significantly vandalized as a result of blame for his actions being baselessly attached to her. She only hopes that with Mr. Brittain taking proper responsibility for his actions, and the court sentencing him appropriately, the Penticton community can begin to heal and that people, particularly the families of the victims with whom she deeply sympathizes, will accept that she had no part in his horrific actions.
Vancouver's West End is mourning the death of Anthony "Scotty" Larin, a bar manager, LGBT advocate and well-known community leader.Larin, 51, was known for being a warm and welcoming presence at the Fountainhead Pub on Davie Street, where he was a manager. The cause of his death has not been disclosed."When I mean the West End is changed forever, that's not lightly said," said Astrid Lalonde, co-owner of the pub who considers Larin her big brother."The bar [in] Cheers had nothing on us, when it came to Scotty," she said.Larin was also well-known and loved for being a supporter of the LGBT community in Vancouver's Davie Village."He always appreciated the impact we had on him and he would always talk about ... how privileged he was to be part of such a close group," said Tara Fenimore, manager of the Fountainhead Pub."You could reach out to every single drag queen on Davie Street and they would have something to tell you about Scotty," said Lalonde."If there was ever anyone at the Fountainhead that caused any issues and I mean like homophobic or whatever ... Scotty was our defender," she added.'He was our superhero'Lalonde said Larin was heavily involved in fundraising for charity. He would regularly host events at the pub to raise money for organizations like the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, Friends for Life and A Loving Spoonful.But what Lalonde remembers most about him, she said, was his commitment to inclusivity."He affected and saved so many people by listening to them and making sure that they were heard and seen and felt like they belonged," she said."He made sure that you felt that you were at home and that you found a home, which is the philosophy of the Fountainhead and he lived and breathed that."Fenimore said they will be closing the Fountainhead Pub this weekend in Larin's memory.
A COVID-19 outbreak at a Quebec City hospital has forced it to temporarily halt kidney transplants.The Hôtel-Dieu hospital in the provincial capital decided to postpone the transplant surgeries after five patients contracted the novel coronavirus. About 60 patients and staff on the seventh floor, which is home to those awaiting transplants, are being currently tested for COVID-19. The hospital explained it made the decision because organ transplant patients are especially vulnerable to complications associated with COVID-19. The number of cases in Quebec City the surrounding area has risen sharply over the past month."Taking the risk of transplanting while there is an outbreak of COVID-19 on the floor where immuno-suppressed patients are admitted is not a good idea. Organ transplant patients who have COVID-19 have a high mortality rate," said Isabelle Houde, head of the kidney transplant unit at Hôtel-Dieu.If kidneys become available while the transplant program at the hospital is paused, the organs will be sent to another facility, she said.Earlier this month, Quebec City's Heart and Lung Institute also announced it was suspending heart transplants after 41 employees tested positive for the coronavirus.
Friends and family spent Saturday searching Fredericton for New Brunswick writer Richard Vaughan.They put up posters to raise awareness about his disappearance. "I think for a lot of members of the community, they were very concerned about Richard being missing," said Jenna Lyn Albert, who helped organize Saturday's search for Vaughan."This is all a way of feeling like we're helping and gives us a chance of finding information that would help find Richard."Fredericton police posted on social media on Tuesday that the 55-year-old author was last seen the day before on Aberdeen Street.The police don't suspect foul play, but would like to locate Vaughan or verify that he's safe. Albert said volunteers met at the Fredericton public library on Saturday morning and about 20 people went out from there to search. More were expected to join the effort in the afternoon. The search will focus on the city's trail system and some places Vaughan spent time, like UNB. Volunteers will also put up posters in the city's downtown, uptown by the mall, the north side and along the trails. Albert is the current poet laureate for the city of Fredericton. She met Vaughan when he was artist in residence at UNB and has been working with Vaughan on an anthology of queer writers from New Brunswick. "He also emceed a few events that I took part in and his bubbly personality and charisma was immediately noticeable," said Albert. "He's not only an important part of the writing and artistic community. He's a crucial member of the queer community here in Fredericton and across New Brunswick." Albert said it's been a stressful past few days. "I think there has been a lot of anxiety for those who are seeking Richard out, wanting to have answers, and we're just trying to ease some of that anxiety and rule things out by doing some searching," said Albert.Volunteers will be at the library until 5 p.m. and Albert expects people will continue to search after that.
Prince Albert police want to speak with the occupants of a vehicle that picked up a hitchhiker who is now accused of trying to kill a man.The 19-year-old is believed to have hitched a ride from North Battleford to Prince Albert, Sask., on Wednesday night.Police allege he later stabbed a 21-year-old man at a business on the 3500 block of Second Avenue W. at about 10 p.m. CST. "It is not believed that any occupants of this vehicle were involved in a criminal offence in any way," said a news release from the Prince Albert Police Service on Friday.The 21-year-old suffered life-threatening injuries and was airlifted by STARS air ambulance to a hospital in Saskatoon.The accused made his first court appearance on the charge of attempted murder Friday morning. Police want to speak to members of the public who interacted with the 19-year-old, including the occupant or occupants of the vehicle he travelled in to Prince Albert.He was wearing a red Chicago Blackhawks tuque, camouflage pants and a grey sweater. Anyone with information is asked to contact Prince Albert police at 306-953-4222.
Bars and casinos in the Canadian city of Winnipeg will close for two weeks and stores and restaurants will reduce their capacities to half, Manitoba health officials said on Friday, attempting to slow rising COVID-19 infections. Manitoba, with a population of 1.4 million, had seen among the fewest infections among provinces, but that changed in autumn. The province now has the highest rate of active cases per capita, although its case count is well below the more populous provinces of Quebec, Ontario and Alberta.
Canadians Denis Shapovalov and Milos Raonic have advanced to the semifinals of the St. Petersburg Open. The second-seeded Shapovalov, from Richmond Hill, Ont., downed No. 5 seed Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland 6-4, 7-5 in quarterfinal action on Friday at the ATP Tour 500 indoor hard-court event. The sixth-seeded Raonic, from Thornhill, Ont., defeated fourth-seeded Russian Karen Khachanov 6-1, 7-6 (1).
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 1:48 p.m. EDT on Oct. 17, 2020: There are 196,278 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Quebec: 92,297 confirmed (including 6,032 deaths, 77,602 resolved) _ Ontario: 63,713 confirmed (including 3,041 deaths, 54,686 resolved) _ Alberta: 21,775 confirmed (including 288 deaths, 18,651 resolved) _ British Columbia: 11,189 confirmed (including 251 deaths, 9,387 resolved) _ Manitoba: 3,258 confirmed (including 38 deaths, 1,572 resolved) _ Saskatchewan: 2,270 confirmed (including 25 deaths, 1,946 resolved) _ Nova Scotia: 1,093 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,024 resolved) _ New Brunswick: 297 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 203 resolved) _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 287 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 271 resolved) _ Prince Edward Island: 63 confirmed (including 60 resolved) _ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved) _ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved) _ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved), 3 presumptive _ Nunavut: No confirmed cases _ Total: 196,278 (3 presumptive, 196,275 confirmed including 9,746 deaths, 165,435 resolved) This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 17, 2020. The Canadian Press
Kids and seniors have some different options this year when it comes to getting vaccinated against the flu in B.C., and that could mean an extra dose of protection or avoiding the needle altogether.For most of us, the standard influenza shot from a pharmacist or doctor will be the only choice.But if you're a child or over 65 and living in long-term care or assisted living, things could be a bit different.CBC spoke to Monika Naus, medical director of the communicable diseases and immunization service at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control about the different options for the 2020/21 influenza season.Here's what she said:What are the options for kids?A needle isn't necessarily the most comfortable experience for anyone, but children between the ages of two and 17 have the choice of receiving their vaccination through a nasal spray called FluMist."In the studies that have been done of this product [...] it seems to perform very well in kids, but less well in adults," Naus said.The spray hasn't been available in recent years, but it's back for this season and can be obtained from your local health unit, as well as some pharmacies and doctors' offices.However, it's not an option for toddlers under the age of two, who will still require a shot from their doctor.What about seniors?For people over the age of 65 who live in long-term care or assisted living facilities, an extra-potent version of the vaccine called Fluzone High-Dose is available and fully covered this year.This shot contains four times the concentration of antigens in a normal inoculation — these are the molecules that provoke an immune response.For seniors who don't live in care homes, though, this particular vaccine likely won't be available for purchase."What we've heard from the company that distributes this product is that they don't anticipate a private market," Naus said.However, there is a vaccine called Fluad that is specially formulated for seniors, with an ingredient called an adjuvant that has been designed to promote a stronger immune response in older people.Watch: Here are your flu shot options in B.C.And everybody else?For all other adults, the standard flu shot is the only option. It's available for free to pregnant women, health-care workers, people with certain medical conditions and front-line emergency workers — among others.The demand for the flu shot is unusually high this year in B.C. because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Naus says that everyone who wants to be vaccinated will get their chance."We've certainly heard that pharmacists are saying that they're running out of vaccine," she said."But this program typically runs until about the middle of December, so there is lots of time to get vaccinated."Naus said supplies will be arriving throughout flu season, but it can take time to trickle down to health-care providers.
As Autumn begins to inundate us, we enter the long weekend that is recognized nationally as Thanksgiving in Canada. While for many Thanksgiving is a time to come together with family (though that will be limited this year due to COVID-19), for some Thanksgiving evokes a darker history — it’s a reminder of Canada’s history of colonization and genocide that continues to impact Indigenous communities today. Pamela Palmater is a Mi’kmaw lawyer and member of Eel River Bar First Nation.
At a meeting Friday between Indigenous leaders and federal officials to discuss racism in the health-care system, Elder Sadie North testified that a doctor at a Winnipeg hospital accused her of being under the influence of alcohol when she sought medical attention on the Labour Day weekend.