A look inside world's first vagina museum ahead of its opening in London this weekend

Francesca Specter
Yahoo Style UK deputy editor

The world’s first ever vagina museum opens in London on Saturday.

The Vagina Museum, based in Camden Market, is marking the occasion with its first exhibition: ‘Muff Busters: Vagina Myths and How To Fight Them’.

The free exhibition opens to the public this Saturday 16 November and will be open seven days a week.

It centres around the concepts of “cleanliness, contraception, anatomy, periods and sexuality,” according to its curator Sarah Creed.

READ MORE: Superdrug now sells a pill that delays your period

Vagina museum: The world's first vagina museum has opened up in Camden, London.

Exhibits include a larger-than-life display models of sanitary products – a tampon and Mooncup – covered in glittery “blood” to help tackle the taboos around this imagery.

There are also various anatomical depictions of vaginas – including a scientific model of the inside of the female body.

Vagina Museum: Models of "blood-covered" menstrual cups and tampons.
Vagina Museum: The exhibition tackles every from menstruation to anatomy.

“For now I’ve focussed on top level content,” Creed tells Yahoo UK. “But I could have filled a space 800 times bigger than this.”

Visitors are handed an anatomy quiz to label parts of the vagina – and, by the looks of previous papers, it looks like many fall short in being able to do so.

The exhibition also features a gift shop which sells everything from the feminist literature of Maya Angelou and Laura Bates to more kitsch items, like a knitted clitoris and a lightbox bearing the phrase “Love the muff”.

READ MORE: What is urine therapy and should we all be doing it?

“People expect funny from us. I think engaging people with humour is the best way to do it.”

Going forward, Creed is looking to engage with visitors to the museum in order to gauge the demand ahead of further exhibitions.

Vagina Museum: An anatomical model of the inside of a woman's pelvis.
Vagina museum: The 'Muff Busters' exhibition aims to dispel myths around vaginas.

“For me in terms of programming I want to see what people are interested in. We have people coming in and saying ‘I didn’t know any of this’.”

Creed acknowledges the limits of her own perspective, as someone immersed in the world of vaginas.

READ MORE: Warning after woman is burned by 'trendy' vaginal steaming

“I’m a person with a vagina but I don’t know what everyone wants to know about themselves,” she says, explaining she is regularly surprised by how little both men and women know.

“One in five adult women in the UK think you need to remove a tampon to urinate because they think urine comes from the same place as when they menstruate, while one in four girls don’t know what a period are until they have one,” she says. “Those numbers are far higher than I thought they would be.”

Visitors are invited to fill in a vagina anatomy quiz.
Vagina Museum: A lightbox sold at the gift shop.

As part of the museum’s feedback process, the exhibition will feature a “vagina postbox” where visitors can ask questions and share what they might like to see from the museum going forward.

The history-making site will regularly host exhibitions, workshops and film screenings on topics including body image, consent, mental health and sexuality. It will also provide an outreach programme supporting healthy and inclusive sex and relationships education while services and support will also be offered to trans and intersex communities.

The museum has found its home following a crowdfunding campaign which raised almost £50,000 from supporters worldwide.

The Vagina Museum is based at Unit 17&18 Stables Market, Chalk Farm Road, London, NW1 8AH and is free to visit seven days a week. You can also become a member of the Vagina Museum, allowing access to private views, special events and more for £50 (email friends@vaginamuseum.co.uk for further information).

  • Toronto family forced to dismantle, move backyard 'pirate ship' after complaint to city

    Toronto family forced to dismantle, move backyard 'pirate ship' after complaint to city

    It was a labour of love when John Konstantinidis built a large "pirate ship" in his backyard to bring his kids joy in the middle of a pandemic. But the Toronto family says in the past couple of weeks a complaint from a neighbour led to city officials knocking on their door. Now, Konstantinidis has to dismantle the structure — which is actually part swimming pool and part deck — move it, and reassemble it."The kids went crazy. I mean, bawling ... They were very sad about it," he said. "Kids always tend to be victims in such situations."Konstantinidis says he doesn't have any documentation from the city explaining the violation.CBC News asked the City of Toronto to explain which bylaw the pirate ship violates and how, but officials weren't able to provide a statement before publishing time. And his next door neighbours told CBC Toronto they weren't the ones who lodged the complaint. But, as Konstantinidis understands it, the structure needs to be moved because, since it's partly a swimming pool, it needs to be a certain distance away from the gate to his backyard, and right now, it's too close. He's got to move it back at least a metre away from the fence.It had taken Konstantinidis two months to complete the pirate ship, and it was only up for about a week when bylaw officers spoke to the family. Voula Konstantinidis said she and her husband were shocked."We didn't think it was an issue," she said. A chance for the family to be togetherKonstantinidis built the ship in an effort to get his kids away from their devices and out of the house in a setting where the whole family could be together He explained that he closed his downtown restaurant, Pita Choice, before the pandemic hit, and was ready to sign a new lease at a new downtown location shortly thereafter, but was told by the building owners he had to wait until the pandemic was over. "This is very, very rare for me to be able to be at home for this long and not working. Usually, I work seven days a week," he said, explaining that having more time to spend with his family is the one positive thing that has come from the pandemic. He said it was difficult for him to see the toll having to dismantle the pirate ship has taken on his kids. "I thought it was great, but when I heard that we had to empty the water and stuff, it made me heartbroken," said nine-year-old Michael. "It took a very long time to build," said seven-year-old Steven. He said knowing how hard his dad worked on it made him feel like his heart was "getting bigger and bigger."They're excited to get the ship back up and running soon, so that they can once again swim in the pool. 'If I can build it, I can move it'Their father has already moved about a third of the ship far enough from the fence, and has some more work to do over the coming days and weeks. "I can't really put an amount of difficulty on that, but if I can build it," he said, "I can move it."He says the family is willing to make the necessary changes in an effort to make all parties happy. Konstantinidis even reached out to another Torontonian who had found himself in a similar situation in 2016, after building an elaborate boat-treehouse in his backyard.John Alpeza had been ordered to take the house down, but after fighting with the city and and taking his case to the Ontario Municipal Board, he was given permission to keep it, provided he met certain conditions. Konstantinidis said his biggest lesson from his brief chat with Alpeza, and from this whole experience, is that it's important to do your homework before you start building anything in your backyard.

  • Study links good health-care in Canada to higher COVID-19 death rate
    The Canadian Press

    Study links good health-care in Canada to higher COVID-19 death rate

    TORONTO — Heart researchers say there's a surprising reason Canada has seen higher COVID-19 deaths than many countries with fewer health-care resources — more Canadians live longer with chronic disease, putting them at greater risk of dying from COVID-19.Research led by Heart & Stroke also found the pandemic has likely postponed thousands of cardiovascular procedures.Lead author Cindy Yip said the findings underscore the devastating consequences of poor heart health, even if excellent medical care and technology is available. "Quality of care is good to have, but it's not enough," said Yip, principal investigator and director of data knowledge management at Heart & Stroke, formerly known as the Heart and Stroke Foundation.She said Canadians are somewhat vulnerable to pandemics such as COVID-19 because so many have survived other health crises."Because people are living longer with chronic disease like heart conditions and stroke we need to take actions, and we need them to take care of their health in order to avoid the poor outcome from COVID-19."The study notes 11.7 per cent of Canadians suffer from cardiovascular disease, including strokes. That puts us in the top third among 63 countries studied — worse than the 11.6 per cent found in the United States, 10 per cent in Russia, 7.6 per cent in South Korea, 4.3 per cent in India and 3.8 per cent in Pakistan.When it came to reported death rates from COVID-19, Canada ranked higher than all but 14 of the 65 countries studied (two additional countries had sufficient data). That included places with poorer health-care resources such as Russia, India, Pakistan, and China.The study looked at COVID-19 cases reported between Jan. 21 and April 30, when Canada listed 54,457 confirmed cases and a case fatality rate of 6.1 per cent.Lower foreign death rates included 1 per cent in Russia, 5.5 per cent in China and 3.3 per cent in India.Yip acknowledged that countries vary in how they report deaths, but said researchers strove to use comparable numbers.She said the analysis accounted for the wide range in access to health-care services among countries. But a strong relationship between COVID-19 deaths and the prevalence of heart conditions and stroke was still there.For every 1 per cent increase in the number of people with heart problems, the COVID-19 death rate was 19 per cent higher.Age was also a factor.For every 1 per cent increase in the number of people aged 65 years and older, the COVID-19 death rate was 9 per cent higher. Nearly 9 per cent of the Canadian population is 65 or older.The study also tried to number the heart-related medical procedures that have been postponed by the pandemic, but Yip said data here is limited, forcing researchers to extrapolate.She noted data provided by 20 cardiac centres in Ontario indicate fewer heart procedures were performed between March 16 and May 3 and the same period last year: 42 per cent fewer bypass surgeries, 37 per cent fewer angioplasty procedures and 45 per cent fewer valve surgeries.The report estimates that province-wide, 1,252 procedures are being postponed each month by COVID-19 precautions.Yip said that could easily translate to thousands of patients across the country. And that means health-care providers need "a very strategic plan" to provide care for people whose conditions may be worsening.Yip said the study lends increased force to public health directives to socially distance and wash hands often.But she said it also underscores the need for heart-healthy habits — regular exercise, healthy eating and no smoking or vaping."Take care of your heart and brain health because if you don't have good heart and brain health, if you get COVID-19 your outcome is not good." This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 16, 2020.By Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press

  • Ethiopia denies reports government has started filling dam
    The Canadian Press

    Ethiopia denies reports government has started filling dam

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia’s water minister denied reports Wednesday that the government had begun filling a massive hydroelectric dam that has caused severe tensions with Egypt and led some to fear military conflict.Media outlets reported the government had begun filling after Minister Sileshi Bekele confirmed to the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation that satellite images from recent days showed the dam’s reservoir swelling.The minister told The Associated Press, however, that the images reflected heavy rains, saying that inflow was greater than the outflow. He later tweeted saying it created “natural pooling.”On Tuesday, International Crisis Group analyst William Davison told the AP that images of the swelling reservoir captured on July 9 by a European Space Agency satellite likely show a “natural backing-up of water behind the dam.”Ethiopia’s latest round of talks with Egypt and Sudan on an agreement over the operation of the $4.6 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam failed early this week.Ethiopia has said it would begin filling the dam's reservoir this month even without a deal as the rainy season floods the Blue Nile.Ethiopia says the colossal dam offers a critical opportunity to pull millions of its nearly 110 million citizens out of poverty and become a major power exporter. Downstream Egypt, which depends on the Nile to supply its farmers and booming population of 100 million with fresh water, asserts that the dam poses an existential threat.Years of talks with a variety of mediators, including the Trump administration, have failed to produce a solution. Last week’s round, mediated by the African Union and observed by U.S. and European officials, proved no different.Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas on Monday said the parties were “keen to find a solution,” but technical and legal disagreements persist over its filling and operation.Most important, he said, are the questions about how much water Ethiopia will release downstream if a multi-year drought occurs and how the countries will resolve any future disputes.Kevin Wheeler, a researcher at the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, told the AP that the escalating rhetoric is more due to changing power dynamics in the region. Fears of any immediate water shortage “are not justified at this stage at all.“If there were a drought over the next several years, that certainly could become a risk,” he said.Elias Meseret, The Associated Press

  • Fishermen in B.C. catch a barracuda far from its nearest home in California
    The Canadian Press

    Fishermen in B.C. catch a barracuda far from its nearest home in California

    PORT ALBERNI, B.C. — A commercial fisherman knew he was staring at a fish out of place when a barracuda landed in his net on Vancouver Island, far from its typical habitat in southern California.Tyler Vogrig, 24, said he'd seen the long, silvery body of the muscular fish with giant teeth before, but in Hawaii.Vogrig said he and his father Brian were catching sockeye at Alberni Inlet as part of their stock-assessment work for Fisheries and Oceans Canada when they hauled in the barracuda."We couldn't believe it," he said from his home in Vancouver. "The fish was docile because it was being chased by some seals and one of the seals actually nipped it on its tail so it had a little gash on it."The duo placed the weak, predatory fish in a tank to recover for about 30 minutes and contacted Fisheries and Oceans.They snapped some photos of the fish, which he believed weighed about five kilograms, before releasing it. Now, they have quite a tale to tell about an adventure earlier this month aboard their purse seiner, the Nita Maria."It's just really cool and there's just no chance I'll ever forget that," Vogrig said.His father has been fishing for 40 years and had never seen a barracuda in British Columbia waters, he said.Jackie King, a research scientist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, said the presence of Pacific barracuda in British Columbia waters is rare."But we have had some recorded in our commercial fisheries as far back as 1987 and then huge gaps between when they're appearing again," King said, adding a barracuda was spotted in British Columbia in 2016 and 2019.The fish are normally found in Baja California in Mexico, bordering the state of California, but have also recently been seen as far north as Washington state neighbouring B.C., likely due to warming waters at home, she said."It's more evidence of the impacts of climate change on our marine ecosystems."This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 15, 2020.The Canadian Press

  • AMA using 'empty tactics' by publishing newspaper ads, health minister says

    AMA using 'empty tactics' by publishing newspaper ads, health minister says

    Health Minster Tyler Shandro on Wednesday dismissed advertisements placed by the Alberta Medical Association in the province's newspapers as a meaningless negotiating tactic.The AMA advertisement lays out what physicians are proposing and asked Shandro "to take yes for an answer" for "the good of Albertans."Shandro told the AMA to stop playing games, and to start taking Alberta's financial situation seriously. "The AMA has to stop these empty tactics and talk to us," Shandro said on Thursday in question period. "They know what an offer looks like. It doesn't look like a newspaper ad."Dr. Christine Molnar, president of the AMA, disputed Shandro's statements that the AMA has not made a serious effort to contain health-care costs. Molnar said the AMA has submitted four proposals to the government since January. The latest proposal, sent July 1, caps physician compensation at what the government wants for three years, she said. Doctors will voluntarily take fee decreases if spending goes over that amount. "Minister Shandro, we have said yes to your requirements, I believe it is now your turn," Molnar said. "And believe me, there are no games here. This is a serious offer that we fully plan and intend to carry through with." The ad is the latest salvo in a months-long battle between Shandro and the AMA. Relations between the two sides have deteriorated since the minister unilaterally ended the master agreement and imposed a new compensation framework in February.Shandro said in question period that the government talked to the AMA about the July 1 proposal only to learn the group had "a bunch of preconditions for us to even start negotiating with them." In addition to a compensation cap, the AMA wants the government to fund any additional doctors recruited to the province, something the AMA says it can't control. The proposal also includes a request for the government to continue funding paternity and maternity leaves, as well as the physician health program. The AMA also wants the government to agree to binding arbitration if a deal cannot be reached through other means. Doctors are not allowed to go on strike. "We've given them everything they wanted, so why would they turn this down," said Sean Smith, the AMA's senior staff lead for negotiations.Shandro and Premier Jason Kenney have said Alberta doctors are the best paid in Canada, but Molnar said that isn't true and money isn't the main issue in this dispute. "Doctors are not looking to be paid more," she said. "Our issues are about the way we have been treated. We have not been treated with respect or value. We're treated like we're the problem to be solved."The AMA released a survey last week that suggested 42 per cent of the 1,740 doctors who responded are thinking about leaving Alberta.Shandro has criticized the accuracy of the survey. But the AMA said it stands by the results.

  • Ex-CFL player gets 3 months for college admissions scam in United States
    The Canadian Press

    Ex-CFL player gets 3 months for college admissions scam in United States

    A former Canadian Football League player was sentenced Wednesday to three months in prison for hiring someone take the SATs in place of his two sons.David Sidoo, who played professional football for the Saskatchewan Roughriders and B.C. Lions, lowered his head into his hands and cried as U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton chided him for his actions. Sidoo told the judge he's “deeply ashamed."“I make no excuses. I broke the law. I pled guilty to a crime and now I must pay for my actions,” Sidoo said.Earlier Wednesday, Karen Littlefair of Newport Beach, California, asked U.S District Judge Allison Burroughs for leniency before being sentenced to more than a month in prison for the online course scam. Littlefair said she was “truly sorry” and called the experience a “nightmare” for her family.“I acted out of love for my son but I ended up hurting my son greatly,” said Littlefair, 57.Court heard she paid $9,000 to have online classes taken on her son’s behalf.Both Sidoo and Littlefair appeared before the Boston federal court judges via videoconference because of the coronavirus pandemic.They are among more than 50 people charged in the college cheating scheme involving wealthy parents and athletic coaches at elite universities across the country. Authorities say the parents worked with the admissions consultant at the centre of the scam, Rick Singer, to have someone cheat on their kids’ exams or get them admitted to selective schools with fake athletic credentials.Sidoo was CEO of mining firm Advantage Lithium Corp. when he was arrested last year. He was also a founding shareholder of an oil and gas company that was sold in 2010 for more than $600 million.The Vancouver businessman paid Singer $200,000 to have someone pose as his sons using a fake ID to secure higher scores on their SATs, prosecutors said. Sidoo also worked with Singer to craft an admission essay for his son with a bogus story about the teen being held at gunpoint by Los Angeles gang members and saved by a rival gang member named “Nugget,” prosecutors said.Last month, the B.C. government said Sidoo has been stripped of his membership in the Order of British Columbia, a process that began after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud on March 13.Sidoo is also known for his philanthropic causes in British Columbia.After Littlefair’s son was put on academic probation by Georgetown University, she hired Singer’s company to take four online classes on his behalf so he could graduate in 2018, prosecutors said. Three of the courses were taken through Georgetown, prosecutors said, while one was taken online at Arizona State University and then transferred to Georgetown.Littlefair demanded a discount on the cheating after the person earned a C in one of the courses, authorities said.“Kind of thought there would have been a discount on that one. The grade was a C and the experience was a nightmare,” she told Singer’s accountant in an email, according to court documents.Burroughs told Littlefair she taught her son “it’s OK to cheat, it’s OK to take shortcuts.”“You’re supposed to get more by earning it and working for it and I think that’s a lesson your son needs to learn and sadly he’s going to learn it the hard way here,” the judge said.Nearly 30 parents have pleaded guilty in the case.Others include “Full House” actor Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, who admitted to paying half a million dollars to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California as fake crew recruits.They are scheduled to be sentenced next month. If the judge accepts their plea deals, Loughlin will be sentenced to two months in prison and Giannulli will be sentenced to five months.— With files from The Canadian PressAlanna Durkin Richer, The Associated Press

  • Depp's bodyguard says Amber Heard abused the Hollywood star
    The Canadian Press

    Depp's bodyguard says Amber Heard abused the Hollywood star

    LONDON — Johnny Depp’s security chief alleged that Amber Heard physically abused Depp during the couple’s tempestuous marriage, giving testimony to support Depp’s libel suit against a British tabloid that accused him of assaulting his former spouse.Depp is suing News Group Newspapers, publisher of The Sun, and the paper’s executive editor, Dan Wootton, over an April 2018 article that called him a “wife-beater.” He strongly denies abusing Heard.In a written witness statement released as he appeared in court Thursday, security officer Sean Bett said that “throughout the course of Mr. Depp and Ms. Heard’s relationship, Ms. Heard was verbally and physically abusive towards Mr. Depp."“On many occasions, I witnessed her shout at Mr. Depp. I was also told by Mr. Depp on multiple occasions that Ms. Heard had physically abused him,” he said.Bett, a former Los Angeles sheriff's deputy who has worked for Depp for a decade, said he regularly had to remove the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star from bad situations when Heard was in an “abusive mood.”“Ms. Heard often behaved in this way when she had been drinking. I learnt quickly to recognize the signs, so that we were able to leave the situation before it escalated further,” he said.Depp, 57, and Heard, 34, met on the set of the 2011 comedy “The Rum Diary” and married in Los Angeles in February 2015. Heard filed for divorce the following year, and the divorce was finalized in 2017.The Sun’s defence relies on 14 allegations made by Heard of violence by Depp between 2013 and 2016, in settings including his private island in the Bahamas, a rented house in Australia and a private jet. He denies them all and claims Heard was the aggressor during their volatile relationship, which he has likened to “a crime scene waiting to happen.”In a week and half of testimony, judge Andrew Nicol has heard from Depp — who accused Depp of compiling a dossier of fake claims against him — as well as several employees of Depp and Heard who have backed his version of events.Heard is due to give her side of the story in evidence later in the trial, which is scheduled to last three weeks.Bett was cross-examined Thursday by The Sun's lawyer, Sasha Wass, who questioned his claim that he had never seen Heard with bruises of marks on her face or body but had several times seen Depp with bruises inflicted by his wife.Wass suggested Bett was lying to protect Depp, his employer.“Ma’am you can call me a liar a hundred times. I’m not a liar. I’m telling the truth," Bett said.Depp’s former romantic partners Vanessa Paradis and Winona Ryder had been scheduled to give evidence, but Depp's lawyer said Thursday that they would no longer be appearing.David Sherborne, said Thursday that he no longer needed to call them, “much as it would have been a pleasure to have them here,” because The Sun does not contest Depp’s claim that he never hit them.Depp and French singer Paradis had two children during a 14-year relationship that ended in 2012. American actress Ryder dated Depp between 1990 and 1993.In a written witness statement disclosed in part at a pretrial hearing, Ryder said Depp "was never, never violent towards me. He was never, never abusive at all towards me.”Paradis said in a witness statement that she had always known Depp to be "a kind, attentive, generous, and non-violent person and father.”Jill Lawless, The Associated Press

  • US to hit Huawei employees with visa bans
    Canadian Press Videos

    US to hit Huawei employees with visa bans

    The Trump administration said Wednesday it will impose travel bans on employees of the Chinese technology giant Huawei and other Chinese companies the U.S. determines are assisting authoritarian governments in cracking down on human rights. (July 15)

  • News
    The Canadian Press

    Halifax man alleges racial bias after arrest, jailing while making call in park

    A Halifax man is alleging racial profiling played a role in his arrest and jailing after he and his spouse pulled their vehicle into a park to make a cell phone call during a winter night in 2018. Adam LeRue, who is Black, and his wife Kerry Morris, who is white, attempted to bring their complaint before the Nova Scotia Police Review Board Wednesday. The complaint, which involves two Halifax police officers, alleges LeRue alone was targeted with hefty fines for being in the Dingle park's parking lot after hours on the night of Feb. 12, while others in the area weren't punished.

  • Alberta escalates pay fight with doctors, asks regulatory college to intervene
    The Canadian Press

    Alberta escalates pay fight with doctors, asks regulatory college to intervene

    EDMONTON — Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro is escalating his pay dispute with doctors, asking the College of Physician and Surgeons to make rules to stop doctors from withdrawing services en masse.Shandro, in a letter dated June 18, says patients — particularly those in rural areas — have a right to timely access to care and that the college has to do more to make sure that happens.He says the college needs to take numerous steps, including prohibiting entire groups of physicians from withdrawing services at the same time.The letter was posted on the college's website and discussed Wednesday at a meeting, where the college decided to ask for an extension to Shandro's July 20 deadline for a response.College registrar, Dr. Scott McLeod, said in a statement that the association is open to better understanding the minister's concern."We would like to work with the minister and Alberta Health to develop standards of practice that allow for an appropriate period of consultation with experts, regulators, Albertans, physicians and partners," it said.Shandro, in his letter, says the college's standards of practice "do not go far enough to protect patients, particularly in rural or smaller communities. Patients in these communities should not have to face an entire group of physicians withdrawing services."He says the revised college rules must ensure doctors who withdraw services take steps to mitigate the impact, including making reasonable efforts to ensure other physicians are available to fill gaps in care.The college must also "prohibit an entire group of physicians from withdrawing at the same time. This could be identified as 'job action' rather than a closure of a medical practice," he says.Shandro has been involved in an escalating dispute with doctors since he tore up a master agreement with their bargaining representative, the Alberta Medical Association, in February and imposed a raft of billing changes that prompted doctors in numerous rural municipalities to announce a withdrawal of hospital services.Many have said the changes to hospital billing make it financially impossible to work in those facilities, where they perform services such as emergency care and delivering babies. As some family doctors quit or withdrew services, the United Conservative government rolled back on many changes in March and April. But some doctors have continued to withdraw services, saying they need a master agreement and have no trust that Shandro won't change his mind again.Opposition NDP health critic David Shepherd said Shandro's letter runs counter to pronouncements that his fee concessions would keep doctors from leaving or pulling services."This utterly puts the lie to any claim that Tyler Shandro has made that he has any shred of competence in dealing with this situation," said Shepherd in an interview."He repeatedly claimed doctors weren't leaving. Once doctors started to actually show they were leaving, he claimed he had replacements ready to go."Now we find out that in an act of desperation he is trying to actually imprison doctors and force them to practise against their will."Health spokesman Steve Buick said in a statement "the suggested changes would not ban physicians from changing their practices, or penalize them for doing so. They would balance the right of physicians to change their practices with due consideration of the impact on patients and communities."Buick noted that other provinces, such as Ontario, British Columbia and Nova Scotia, have similar conditions.The AMA is taking the province to court over the abandoned master agreement, alleging breaches of charter rights because it was not given access to third party arbitration.Last week, a survey by the AMA suggested more than 40 per cent of physicians have at least considered looking for work elsewhere in Canada. It also found 87 per cent were making changes to their practices, including layoffs, reduced hours and early retirement.Shandro has said $5.4 billion earmarked in this year's budget for doctors' salaries is the best in Canada, but it must be kept at that level to keep health care sustainable.This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 15, 2020Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

  • Trans Mountain camp liquor licence application concerns businesses in nearby community

    Trans Mountain camp liquor licence application concerns businesses in nearby community

    The community of Clearwater, B.C., is concerned a liquor licence application from Trans Mountain for its nearby work camp will keep workers from visiting local pubs and restaurants, which are in desperate need of business to make up for the lack of tourism this summer.In an email to CBC, a spokesperson for Trans Mountain said the decision to pursue a liquor licence was made after consultation with stakeholders. The plan is to only allow alcohol in a controlled lounge, while following provincial regulations, including physical distancing and gathering rules. The idea is that workers will be able to have a glass of wine or beer after work without leaving the camp.District mayor and council voted to defeat the motion, with the intention to call a second public hearing, in the hopes they can get more information about the proposal and comments from the public. "The proponent was evolving their proposal right up to the moment we got to the door and not all of that information was out there in the public," Mayor Merlin Blackwell told Daybreak Kamloops host Shelley Joyce."Everybody on council had butterflies in their stomach on this."Blackwell said leading up to the hearing, council didn't receive a single submission in support of the application. That information would be no surprise to Jeff Lamond, president of the Clearwater Chamber of Commerce, who has been speaking with his members about the proposal."The overall consensus is that it's not a welcome addition to our community," he said.He said businesses want workers to visit their establishments and spend money, because they'll be missing tourist traffic."Taking that opportunity away from them could hurt their bottom line this summer," Lamond said. "I would like to see part of the trickle down effect of this project to all of our members."Arguments for granting the application, Blackwell said, include keeping workers away from the community and reducing the potential spread of COVID-19. However, he said, the 130 person capacity lounge would likely have a 50-person limit in accordance with provincial regulations, and if there are upwards of 500 people in the camp, some of them are bound to visit the community anyway. Additionally, having alcohol available at the camp could decrease the possibility of drinking and driving within Clearwater. But Lamond said there are taxi services in Clearwater, which would be another business that would benefit from having workers come into town. Blackwell expects another public hearing to be scheduled for mid-August. In the meantime, he hopes to hear more from the public, as well as Trans Mountain.

  • News
    The Canadian Press

    Toronto police say several officers suspended as tow truck probe continues

    TORONTO — The Toronto Police Service says it's suspended several officers as it continues to investigate alleged corruption in the regional tow trucking industry.Spokeswoman Meaghan Gray declined to say how many officers are involved, but says they were placed on paid leave after undisclosed information surfaced in the course of the investigation.That probe has already resulted in criminal charges against one officer, Const. Ronald Joseph, who is accused of stealing encrypted police radios that were used to help tow truck operators secure lucrative jobs.Joseph is one of 11 people charged in the Toronto probe, while a similar investigation from the neighbouring York Regional Police has netted dozens of charges against at least 20 people. Gray says the suspended officers are not currently facing any charges either under either the Criminal Code or Ontario's Police Services Act.The provincial government recently appointed a task force to draft a new regulatory framework for the towing industry, citing a recent wave of criminal activity as part of the need for tighter rules.York police have alleged that a lucrative turf war has erupted along stretches of major provincial highways in and around Toronto, resulting in charges ranging from arson to murder. None of those charges have yet been proven in court.The force alleged multiple tow truck companies, all with ties to organized crime, have defrauded insurance companies with vehicles involved in real and staged collisions.Police further allege that the companies would grossly inflate towing and repair bills and move cars from lot to lot to increase storage fees.Body shops and car rental companies were in on the suspected schemes, police said, and would receive profitable cuts for themselves.Gray said Toronto police would announce if any of the suspended officers wind up facing charges.This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 15, 2020.The Canadian Press

  • Health

    B.C. warns COVID-19 'silently circulating' in broader community, as health officials announce 21 new cases

    Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said they were "concerned" about the recent growth in COVID-19 case numbers, as they provided an update on B.C.'s caseload Wednesday.In a written statement, the health officials reported 21 new cases of COVID-19 but no new deaths related to the disease. it follows the announcement Monday of 62 new cases over the weekend and 13 new cases Tuesday.Henry and Dix say community transmission is becoming a problem in the province and urged people to obey advice to keep the spread of the coronavirus in check."We are concerned about the increase in new cases in recent days, as COVID-19 continues to silently circulate in our communities," they said in their statement. "While early on, many of our long-term care and assisted living facilities were impacted, most of the new cases are in the broader community."As we spend more time with others, we need to find our balance with COVID-19. We need to minimize the number of cases, manage new cases as they emerge and modify our activities accordingly."With Wednesday's case numbers included, the province has had a total of 3,149 novel coronavirus cases to date and 189 deaths have been connected to COVID-19, while 2,753 people have recovered.Two of Wednesday's cases were epidemiologically linked cases, meaning they were never tested but are presumed to have the disease as they are showing symptoms and were in close contact with someone who tested positive for the disease.No new outbreaksThe province also put the number of known cases that are still active at 207.Fourteen people are in hospital, including five in intensive care. The rest are recovering at home in self-isolation, the officials said.No new outbreaks were reported in either health-care settings or the community Wednesday. That leaves B.C. with two long-term care or assisted-living facilities with active outbreaks — at Holy Family Hospital in Vancouver and Langley Memorials' Maple Hill facility — and one acute-care setting with an active outbreak, Mission Memorial Hospital.There remains one active outbreak in the community, the statement said, "in addition to several community exposure events." The community outbreak is at Krazy Cherry Fruit Company in Oliver.

  • Under fire over coronavirus policy, Netanyahu announces money for all

    Under fire over coronavirus policy, Netanyahu announces money for all

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Wednesday a plan for government grants for all Israelis amid growing public anger over his handling of a coronavirus crisis that has taken a sharp turn for the worse. Payments will range between 750 shekels ($219) for individuals to up to 3,000 shekels ($875) for families with three or more children, Netanyahu said in a special TV address. Now in his fifth term, Netanyahu is grappling with new coronavirus transmissions.

  • Sports
    The Canadian Press

    Canada's Sloan making most of time off to improve on slow start to PGA season

    Although it has been a strange PGA Tour season with rescheduled events after a three-month break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Roger Sloan has been grateful for the opportunities it has presented. Sloan, from Merritt, B.C., finished last season ranked 93rd in the FedExCup standings but stumbled out of the gate before the suspension of play in March. "Before the pandemic hit I'd been struggling quite a bit with my golf game and it was nice to get a three-month break to reset and re-evaluate what I'd been doing," said Sloan.

  • COVID-19 in Canada: Ontario announces historic investment in long-term care homes after COVID-19 chaos
    Yahoo News Canada

    COVID-19 in Canada: Ontario announces historic investment in long-term care homes after COVID-19 chaos

    As cases of COVID-19 continue to spread around the world, Canadians are concerned about their health and safety.

  • Canadian businessman, California mom get prison terms in U.S. college scandal

    Canadian businessman, California mom get prison terms in U.S. college scandal

    A Canadian businessman who once played professional football and a California woman were sentenced to prison and fined on Wednesday after admitting they participated in a vast cheating scheme to help their children get into college or graduate. David Sidoo, a Vancouver energy executive and former Canadian Football League player, was sentenced to 90 days in prison for paying $200,000 to have someone secretly take the SAT college entrance exam in place of his two sons.

  • 'They haven't even apologized,' says mother of man killed by police after calling 911
    The Canadian Press

    'They haven't even apologized,' says mother of man killed by police after calling 911

    TORONTO — The silence inside the Campbells' home west of Toronto has grown like a cancer in the weeks since April 6.That's when D'Andre Campbell, one of six siblings who live in the Brampton, Ont., home with their parents, called 911 on himself and was later shot dead by police.Before that night, laughter filled the house, along with the sounds of D'Andre Campbell's footsteps. He was the only one who wore shoes inside the house, his mother recalls, and the sound telegraphed his movements at all hours of the day."I miss those footsteps," says Yvonne Campbell, as tears fall into her face mask.D'Andre Campbell's family still does not know why he called 911 that night. The province's police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit, says officers from Peel Regional Police were dispatched to a "domestic situation," but the family says the 26-year-old was no threat to anyone that day.Two officers fired stun guns at Campbell before another officer fired his gun multiple times, according to the SIU, which has taken over the investigation. The SIU says a knife was recovered at the scene.The Campbells, who are Black, say several of them witnessed D'Andre's death in the kitchen of their home, where he used to eat some of his favourite foods: spaghetti, lasagna and ice cream."My brother bled out there instantly and he didn't do anything wrong," says Campbell's sister, Michelle.Three months later, the family says they have yet to hear from both the SIU and Peel police."I need justice for my son, I need answers," Yvonne Campbell says in a recent interview at the office of the family's lawyers — Jeremy Solomon and Mary DeRose — who are contemplating litigation.The family did not want to discuss details of D'Andre Campbell's death due to the possibility of a civil action. But they want the public to know about his life.Nearly 10 years ago, when D'Andre Campbell was 17, doctors diagnosed him with schizophrenia. The family noticed he became quiet and withdrawn."He got very paranoid, so I knew something was off," Yvonne Campbell says.Doctors prescribed him medication, she says, and he lived the vast majority of his life symptom-free — smiling, laughing and listening to music.He worked for four years at a company's shipping and receiving department and was doing well for a time, Yvonne Campbell says, but at some point he "got a little edgy" and was given some time off.He returned briefly to work, then stopped."I didn't really pressure him to work because I know his situation," his mother says. "I'd rather he be home."The young man became a homebody, only leaving to go to the store, buy lottery tickets or to celebrate his birthday in mid-December at his favourite restaurant, Mandarin.He felt safe in his home, the family says, and often did not go on vacation with them.The family says they called 911 on several occasions in the past when D'Andre Campbell hit a "peak," which usually indicated his medication was no longer working."He'd be back and forth, wouldn't sit down and always thought there was something there," Michelle Campbell says.Calling 911 was "the only way we can get him to see a doctor, he willingly won't want to go, so we have to call police and then he'll go," Michelle Campbell says. He'd spend a few days in hospital and then be fine.The family say they want answers, but the SIU investigation into the young man's death could take up to a year to conclude."The system is screwed up," Michelle Campbell says. "Three months later and we still don't know anything. It's not fair and I don't have any faith in the investigation."The family wants to know the contents of the 911 call along with the name of the officer who killed D'Andre Campbell. They also want that officer to talk to the SIU and provide his notes, which the watchdog agency says he has not done.The SIU says they've interviewed four officers who witnessed the killing, but legally cannot compel the officer who shot D'Andre Campbell to be interviewed or give over his notes due to a regulation in the provincial Police Services Act.Spokeswoman Monica Hudon says the agency only recently received results from the Centre of Forensic Science for items of evidence and received the post-mortem results last week."While the SIU recognizes it is important to resolve cases in a timely manner, the thoroughness of the investigation must take precedence over the length of time it takes to finish an investigation," Hudon says.The Campbells also want to see changes to the way police respond to calls involving people who struggle with mental illness."They definitely shouldn't be going with guns," says Michelle Campbell, adding officers should be wearing body cameras.Yvonne Campbell wants police to say they're sorry for her son's death."The police have torn my family apart," she says. "They haven't even apologized, or offered condolences."Peel police did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The youngest Campbell sibling, 10-year-old Claudius Jr., is struggling to cope with the sudden death of his brother, who would often offer him late-night snacks. Now the boy often cries alone in his room."Sometimes he doesn't want to sleep by himself so he comes into my room and I put on the TV till he falls asleep," says Michelle Campbell, the eldest of the siblings at 29, as she wipes tears from her face.Dajour Campbell, wearing a shirt with his late brother's image on it, says time has lost its meaning."It's been the same day on repeat. I don't feel like getting out of my bed," the 22-year-old says. "It doesn't feel like the same house."Yvonne Campbell says she tries to fill the silence with music to keep thoughts of what happened to her son at bay."It's very hard," she says. "Every day we get up looking for answers and there are no answers."This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 16, 2020.Liam Casey, The Canadian Press

  • Explainer: What's behind rising tensions in the South China Sea?

    Explainer: What's behind rising tensions in the South China Sea?

    The United States this week hardened its position on the South China Sea, where it has accused China of attempting to build a "maritime empire" in the potentially energy-rich waters, despite regional concerns. A statement from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on July 13 was the first time the United States had called China's claims in the sea unlawful and accused Beijing of a "campaign of bullying".

  • Socialite to alleged sex trafficker: Who is Ghislaine Maxwell?

    Socialite to alleged sex trafficker: Who is Ghislaine Maxwell?

    She was once the toast of high society, graced the cover of tabloid magazines and was invited to the biggest events in Britain. Now 58-year-old Ghislaine Maxwell is facing charges she helped recruit girls to be abused by convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who died last year.Appearing via video link in a New York courtroom Tuesday, Maxwell — in a plain brown T-shirt, her signature short hair now long and pulled back in a bun — was denied bail after pleading not guilty to six criminal counts; four related to transporting minors for sexual assault and two for perjury.The judge ruled the wealthy socialite — who holds American, French and British citizenship — was a flight risk."Ghislaine Maxwell is quickly becoming the most notorious, infamous woman in British society," said Andrew Pierce, a consultant editor for The Daily Mail in London, who has reported on high society in Britain for decades."She loves being talked about but she didn't want to be talked about in this way."Maxwell was born into privilege — the daughter of British newspaper magnate Robert Maxwell. Pierce says she was often by his side and is said to have been his favourite child."That opened many doors for her because newspaper owners are still people of considerable influence in this country, just think of Rupert Murdoch," said Pierce, "She would be a regular at receptions at Buckingham Palace for instance."Robert Maxwell died in 1991. His body was found floating in the Atlantic after, it's believed, he fell off his yacht, which was named for his daughter, the Lady Ghislaine. The circumstances around his death remain unclear.At the time his media empire was on the brink of financial collapse, and it was discovered that he had stolen hundreds of millions of dollars from employee pension funds to try to save it. The family was left virtually bankrupt."It certainly was a pivotal moment in her life," says Nigel Cawthorne, author of Prince Andrew: Epstein and the Palace, a book that looks at connections between Epstein and the prince, including Maxwell's relationship with them.Cawthorne says after her father's death, Maxwell left London with a modest trust fund and moved to New York where she met Epstein."She got friendly with Epstein and seemed to have lived an extraordinary luxurious lifestyle — presumably on his money," Cawthorne said.Through the years, the couple socialized with the likes of U.S. President Donald Trump, former president Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew. Cawthorne says Maxwell was good friends with the prince. "He really supported her during the time after her father died, which is why they are so close," he said. Andrew has been embroiled in accusations linked to the pair. One of Epstein's accusers, Virginia Guiffre, says she was forced, by Maxwell, to have sex with the prince when she was 17 years old. Andrew denies the allegations.Activist and journalist Conchita Sarnoff travelled in the same social circles as Maxwell and Epstein — dating back to the '90s. She says she even visited their Florida home on a number of occasions and celebrated New Year's with the pair. "The last time I saw her, we were together and laughing and with the former president of Colombia at the Clinton Global initiative," she said of an event in New York back in 2005.Sarnoff is an advocate against human trafficking. In 2008 she learned about Epstein's 18-month sentence on two charges of soliciting a minor for prostitution. She started looking into the case and got a copy of the arrest documents. Sarnoff says she immediately called Maxwell — who was mentioned in them. "And I said, 'Ghislaine, I don't know if you have seen the documents, but you need to hire the very best lawyer because the accusations are serious — severe and multiple,'" said Sarnoff.She says Maxwell's reaction shocked her. "She was just very nonchalant, and she said it's ridiculous and she told me about how the victims were just after money and she made light of this serious issue." Sarnoff fell out with the pair and went on to write a book, TrafficKing, about the investigation that led to Epstein's 18-month sentence in Florida, which followed a controversial plea deal.Epstein committed suicide in jail in August 2019. He was awaiting trial on new charges that he sexually exploited dozens of girls and women from 2002 to 2005.Following Epstein's arrest in 2018, Maxwell went into hiding.She was arrested on July 2 at her estate in New Hampshire, which she bought late last year under a pseudonym in an all-cash transaction. Maxwell's lawyers argue she is a scapegoat and, during the bail hearing, said "she is not the monster made out by the media."Two of her accusers asked the court to keep her detained while awaiting trial, including Annie Farmer who said "the danger Maxwell poses must be taken seriously.""She is a sexual predator who groomed and abused me and countless other children and young women," Farmer told the court.The trial is scheduled for July 2021. Maxwell faces a maximum penalty of 35 years in jail.

  • Health

    New study says fewer than 1% of British Columbians had coronavirus by the time restrictions eased in May

    A new joint study from the University of British Columbia, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, LifeLabs and public health scientists has found a low level of coronavirus infections through serology testing, adding to the evidence that British Columbians were able to successfully suppress community virus transmission throughout the early 2020 period.The study, which has not been peer-reviewed, is the first in Canada to report estimates of coronavirus antibodies in the general population. Using sero-prevalence research (looking for antibodies in the blood samples of a random group of people), it estimates less than one per cent of British Columbians were infected with coronavirus by the time first wave restrictions were eased in May.Health Minister Adrian Dix made some preliminary comments on the findings Wednesday afternoon, adding a full news conference on the study will take place Thursday morning.Dix praised all British Columbians for their efforts in flattening the curve."I think the news overall is very positive. I'm just very, very proud," Dix said. Samples taken from labs in Lower MainlandThe study looked at samples taken in March and May from labs in the Lower Mainland where community cases of coronavirus were expected to be highest.Researchers screened the samples for antibodies. In March, two out of 869 samples were positive, but neither of them had any antibodies. In May, four out of 885 samples were positive and all four had antibodies. The paper noted that there were limitations in their analysis, pointing out that there is uncertainty in how long antibodies remain in the body after a coronavirus infection or whether those who are asymptomatic have them, which may lead to under-estimation of sero-prevalence.Double-edged resultsDr. Srinivas Murthy, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia, was not involved in the study but is a COVID investigator for the World Health Organization.Murthy said the results were heartening."I'm heartened by the results in that we're doing a good job, or have done a good job, over the past few months at reducing the community burden of infections," Murthy said. However, Murthy noted the results are sort of doubled-edged, as the low presence of antibodies in the population mean more people are vulnerable to any future spikes in coronavirus."We think that if you have antibodies, you will not be infected," he said. "If, in fact, there is a low sero-prevalance of protective antibodies against [coronavirus] then that does leave us vulnerable to further infections."The researchers expect to continue studies using serology testing as the pandemic progresses.

  • Police charge suspect in slaying of 8-year-old Atlanta girl
    The Canadian Press

    Police charge suspect in slaying of 8-year-old Atlanta girl

    ATLANTA — A teen suspect has been charged with felony murder and aggravated assault in the shooting that killed an 8-year-old Atlanta girl near the site of an earlier police shooting, officials said Wednesday.Police issued warrants a day earlier for 19-year-old Julian Conley in the slaying of Secoriea Turner, police spokesman Anthony Grant said. Conley turned himself in Wednesday, his attorney, Jackie Patterson, said.Patterson said Conley was peacefully protesting and witnessed the shooting but did not open fire himself, though he was armed.“It is no doubt this comes as a shock,” he said. “Why would you want to charge a man who saw a crime but did not participate in a criminal act? Police would have a better chance at winning the lottery than getting a conviction on my client.”News of the charges broke as mourners attended Secoriea’s funeral Wednesday at New Calvary Missionary Baptist Church. A long line of relatives and friends filed past her body as the gospel song “I’ll Fly Away” filled the church.“If there’s ever a time that we need the Lord, we need him now,” The Rev. Gregory Sutton told mourners.Secoriea was fatally shot on the Fourth of July while riding in an SUV with her mother and another adult near the Wendy’s restaurant where Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old Black man, was killed by a white police officer on June 12.Makeshift barricades had been set up in the area after Brooks was killed, and armed men had been blocking roads in the area and turning some drivers away. The SUV Secoriea was in was trying to make a U-turn at one of the barricades when at least one gunman shot into the vehicle, police said.Conley said the SUV tried to come through a road block and hit a barricade and a man armed with a rifle, according to Patterson. The man got up and opened fire at the vehicle, Patterson said his client told him. Conley said everyone thought somebody in the SUV was shooting and other armed people opened fire at the vehicle, Patterson said.“He was in disbelief that people were shooting at the vehicle,” the attorney said.Secoriea's parents have pleaded for the public to help find whoever was responsible for the killing. A total of $50,000 in reward money was offered for the apprehension and conviction of those responsible.At her funeral, Secoriea was described as bringing joy to everyone around her. When she began first grade, she walked into class with a unicorn backpack and “she was cute and bright with a smile to adore,” her teacher recalled.“She sprinkled her magic all over the class, bringing laughter and joy to all of our faces,” she said. “Really, she made my heart smile and her life can teach us all a valuable lesson. So the lesson from Secoriea today is to be a unicorn — find your magic, use your power, speak your truth, spread your wings and share your shine.”Sudhin Thanawala And Jeff Martin, The Associated Press

  • Hotline became lifeline for migrant workers secretly reporting poor conditions on Canadian farms

    Hotline became lifeline for migrant workers secretly reporting poor conditions on Canadian farms

    Kit Andres' cellphone was known among migrant farm workers as a hotline for whatever they needed, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has transformed into a lifeline as workers across the country call in secrecy to report poor conditions on farms."They really don't know who we are, so to even just reach out and send us a WhatsApp message saying 'This is what's going on at my farm, please help,' was a huge risk for them," Andres, an organizer with the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, told CBC News.Migrant farm workers have also been among the hardest hit groups during the pandemic. The virus has infected close to 1,000 of them in Ontario, three of whom died. It has sparked calls for governing bodies to improve workers' conditions. Before the pandemic, hotline staff said calls were mainly about things like Employment Insurance and migrant workers rights in Canada. But as coronavirus took hold, Andres said they noticed an increase in calls about conditions on the farms.She said it would take multiple calls for her to win a migrant worker's trust before they would tell her their real name and what farm they worked on. "Some of those conversations are still ongoing because of the level of fear on these farms. It's so real and deep, they don't feel safe even sharing a fake name with me."Workers fear consequences of speaking outShe said the culture of fear comes from many of the 60,000 seasonal farm workers in Canada having their bosses also serve as their landlords. Many live where they work.Andres said some of them are undocumented and almost all are temporary workers whose status is tied to a sole employer. If the worker has an issue with that employer, she said, it could affect whether they get hired in the future.And she said the "fear and intimidation" was there long before the novel coronavirus emerged.WATCH | Undocumented migrant workers fear deportation during COVID-19 pandemic:Andres focuses on English-speaking and Caribbean workers in Niagara, but has received calls from across Canada. She and a colleague, Sonia Aviles, told CBC Front Burner they heard about allegations of racism in the calls, as well as cramped, unhygienic conditions, sometimes with little to no food. Andres said she drove some supplies to farm workers herself to make sure they had basic groceries. She said she was also able to help some of the workers in Haldimand and Norfolk counties in southern Ontario at hot spots like the Scotlynn Group Farm, which saw one migrant worker die and roughly 200 others become infected. Scotlynn president and CEO Scott Biddle told Front Burner that the farm had taken "every precautionary measure" to prevent the coronavirus and "followed every protocol put in place." Keith Currie, president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) and vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA), said the public is only getting one side of the story."If it was such a problem with what's being reported across the industry, why would [the seasonal worker program] be 60 years old and why would these people keep coming back over multiple generations?" he said.He said the outbreaks on farms are no different than long-term care homes, with groups of people working in close proximity. Currie added that there are many inspections and protocols in place. Some of those were "virtual" inspections."What we know now is those protocols aren't COVID-19 proof," he said.Path to permanent resident status is key, advocate saysAndres said fixing up specific farms isn't enough."The problem is not about individual employers. It's not about a few bad apples breaking the rules. It's that the rules themselves are not good enough," she said."The issue is there's not a national housing standard that every employer has to abide by. Wherever a worker is going to in Canada, they can't be assured wherever they end up, the housing will be clean, safe and dignified because they don't have a choice about what farm they get sent to."Currie said the idea that migrant workers have no rights is "unfair.""They have the same labour rights, the same rights to health care ... they are absolutely looked after the same way you and I are. They even pay into CPP so when they go home, they are able to collect a pension," he explained.He also said not every farm owner is perfect and that the OFA and CFA try their best to provide the best working conditions for employees."Do we want to make things better? Absolutely ... doing a panic, rushed move to try and fix everything in one-fell swoop might lead to a whole other problem."Andres argues that one of the most important solutions would be creating better access to obtaining permanent resident status, which would offer a safety net for workers who could face homelessness, unemployment or deportation for turning down work.Currie said the government has been piloting a path to permanent resident status for workers in the agriculture setting and those results could lead to similar opportunities for others.Andres said she hopes they acts soon."Without having their permanent resident status here, they will never feel completely free to assert their rights and speak out ... they're sick of being in constant crisis."

  • Accused Warman killer Ranbir Dhull known to police and city officials before 1st-degree murder charge

    Accused Warman killer Ranbir Dhull known to police and city officials before 1st-degree murder charge

    The paper trail paints a picture of a life unravelling.Ranbir Dhull, 42, was already known to police and city officials in Saskatoon when he allegedly murdered his estranged wife's cousin on July 2.Dhull's wife, Amandeep Kaur, reported her 23-year-old cousin Samandeep Jhinger missing around 4 p.m. CST that day. She had been living for two months with Kaur and her two children in a bungalow on a quiet street in Warman, north of Saskatoon.RCMP found Kaur's body in that bungalow 12 hours later. Two days later, on July 5, they charged Dhull with first-degree murder. Outside provincial court, Dhull's lawyer Andrew Mason said he had no idea how or why the lives of the former taxi driver and the young woman from Punjab in northern India came to collide in a tiny Saskatchewan community."It's very murky at this point," said Mason.On the recordRanbir Dhull first appeared on the public record on Jan. 9, 2019, when he was charged with assault. It was alleged at the time that he had been drinking and then shoved his wife, Amandeep Kaur, during an argument when she tried to call her parents in India. She sustained injuries to her back and head.At the time, Dhull was a driver with Comfort Cabs in Saskatoon.The matter went through domestic violence court, which gave Dhull the opportunity to avoid a criminal record if he took appropriate programming and then took responsibility for his actions.He returned to court in July and then again on August 20. Dhull completed the appropriate courses, pleaded guilty to the assault and was given an absolute discharge.In October, Dhull applied with the city to renew his taxi driver licence. Licences must be renewed annually. Dhull's application was denied.Dhull hired lawyer Andrew Mason and appealed the decision. The hearing took place Jan. 6, 2020 at city hall.The city had learned of the assault — and the absolute discharge — from police on Oct. 1, according to the hearing transcript."Every taxi driver shall immediately notify the city of being charged with or convicted of any prescribed criminal offence," licensing manager Mark Wilson said at Dhull's appeal hearing."Mr. Dhull failed in his obligation under the bylaw to notify the city that he had been charged with assault."Dhull won his appeal.In its written ruling, the License Appeal Board said that even though Dhull had not notified the city that he had been charged with assault, when he applied to renew his licence the matter had been dealt with and Dhull had been given an absolute discharge."Therefore, the denial of the licence due to a 'conviction on record' is not supported by both fact and the law," the decision said.But that's not where it ended.Collision courseRanbir Dhull had been working odd jobs since losing his taxi licence in October 2019, trying to support his wife and kids. Winning the appeal four months later did not mean he automatically returned to driving."There's two steps. You have to have a city licence, but you also have to have an affiliation with a brokerage," said Scott Suppes, owner of Riide in Saskatoon. Riide formed when Comfort Cabs and United Cabs amalgamated. Dhull had originally been a driver with Comfort Cabs."So what we would do is issue a letter at that point and say he's affiliated as a driver."Suppes said that when Dhull did get the city approval in January, "at the point we didn't have availability of shifts."On March 2, Dhull once again ran into trouble.His wife, Amandeep Kaul, called 911 and reported a second alleged assault. Dhull was charged. This time, as part of the release conditions, the two parties were separated.Court documents show that Dhull could not live at the couple's home in Warman. He could not contact Kaur, except by text to discuss the children or finances.Dhull was allowed to return to the house to help with childcare when Kaur was at work, but he had to leave immediately when she returned home. At the time, she worked the night shift at 7-11 in Warman.This was the family environment that 23-year-old Samandeep Jhinger entered when she moved to Warman from southern Ontario in the spring of 2020.A girl from PunjabSamandeep Jhinger was born in a small village in the Barnala district of Punjab, a northern state in India that borders Pakistan. Her parents still live there and were interviewed by a Punjab TV crew after her death.CBC had the news item translated. In it, her parents reminisce about their daughter and say she planned to return home to visit after getting her permanent residency in Canada. They had been told on July 2 that she had been reported missing.Her cousin, Jagdeep Jhinger, told CBC in a text correspondence that Samandeep moved to Toronto in 2016 on a study visa. She had family and friends in southern Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan.Samandeep moved to Warman two months before her death. She was in the process of applying for her permanent residency when she died.Her funeral service was held July 14 at a Calgary crematorium. Her family declined interview requests. It was broadcast live using the video platform Zoom, with more than 30 people from around the world joining to observe.Outside court after Dhull's first appearance on the murder charge, his lawyer Andrew Mason said the case is confusing."There's no direct relationship between the accused and this young woman," he said."I don't have information about the circumstances at all."A list of seven people Dhull is not supposed to contact while at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre was read into the record at that appearance. They include his estranged wife, Amandeep Kaur, plus Malik Draz, president of the United Steelworkers Local Union 2014, which represents unionized taxi drivers.Draz is also the provincial NDP candidate for the riding of Saskatoon Westview.Draz declined requests to explain his relationship with Dhull. A USW official read a prepared statement that said, in part, "Mr. Draz is not involved in this tragic matter ... and is co-operating with authorities."Ranbir Dhull returns to court July 22.

  • Macklem says rates to stay low for extended period
    Canadian Press Videos

    Macklem says rates to stay low for extended period

    The Bank of Canada is holding its key interest rate at 0.25 per cent in response to what it calls the "extremely uncertain" economic outlook from the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Tiff Macklem says the rate will stay there until the economy gets back to pre-pandemic levels, which he warns will take a long time.