Young Ontarians launch lawsuit against province after Ford government scales back emissions targets

A group of young Ontarians is suing the province over what they say is climate change inaction, arguing that the Ford government has violated their charter rights by softening emissions reduction targets.

The group claims that recent policy changes "will lead to widespread illness and death," an alleged violation of Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which promises protection for life, liberty and security of the person.

They are calling on the Ontario government to commit to more ambitious emission reductions with the aim of limiting global warming to 1.5 C, a key target set out in the United Nations' Paris Agreement on climate change.

"Doug Ford is not doing enough to protect our future and it's just unacceptable," said Sophia Mathur, a 12-year-old from Sudbury and one of seven applicants taking part.

"I just want to live a normal life in the future; I shouldn't have to be doing this, but adults aren't doing a good job," she told CBC News.

The claims in the lawsuit have not been proven in court.

"I'm afraid that so many species that I love will go extinct," added Zoe Keary-Matzner, 13, from Toronto. "And that children in the future won't be able to enjoy nature the same way I do."

The applicants, ranging from age 12 to 24, are represented by Stockwoods LLP and Ecojustice, a group that specializes in public interest lawsuits in the name of environmental protection.

Their challenge is part of a growing trend in which young people across the globe are suing governments over perceived inaction on climate change.

Evan Mitsui/CBC

Earlier this year, more than a dozen young Canadians launched a similar lawsuit against the federal government. Similar legal challenges have gone to courts in the U.S. and the Netherlands, with varying degrees of success.

This is the first lawsuit filed against a Canadian province over climate inaction.

"Any government that is failing to address the climate emergency in a meaningful way can expect to face litigation of this nature," said Alan Andrews, climate director at Ecojustice.


PCs roll back greenhouse gas targets

The group is focusing its lawsuit on the Ford government's decision to scale back emission targets set by the Liberals in 2015.

The previous plan called for a 37-per-cent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The reduction target climbed to 80 per cent by 2050.

Under the Progressive Conservatives, Ontario now plans to reduce emissions by 30 per cent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. There is no longer a 2050 target.

The PCs have also repealed a cap-and-trade agreement that gave companies incentives to reduce carbon emissions. They are also in the process of challenging a carbon tax imposed by Ottawa to take its place.

Rod Phillips, who served as Ontario's environment minister when the changes were made, said the previous targets and restrictions were ineffective and "killing jobs" in the province.

The Ford government says it plans to leverage Ontario's private sector to develop green technology, and that its new "made in Ontario" climate strategy will keep the province on track to meet Paris Agreement warming targets 

A precedent for success?

The young people behind the lawsuit say the new approach ignores the increasing urgency of climate change.

"People are very focused on other things; on making money, focusing on the economy, that they don't think about their connection to mother earth," said applicant Shaelyn Wabegijig, 22.

Tijana Martin/Canadian Press

Wabegijig, who grew up at Rama First Nation near Orillia, said she's concerned about having children if the effects of climate change continue to worsen.

While the result of the challenge is not yet decided, Ecojustice recently scored a mild victory against the province over the cancellation of the cap-and-trade program.

In a split decision, a three judge panel determined the Ford government broke the law by scrapping the program without public consultations, although the ruling does not compel the province to revive the program.

Mathur said Ford would be wise to take their challenge seriously.

"I hope he's scared," she said.

  • Book by Trump's niece claims he has psychological disorders. We asked psychologists

    Book by Trump's niece claims he has psychological disorders. We asked psychologists

    Armed with a doctorate in psychology, a piercing pen and a decades-old grudge, Mary Trump has attacked one of the world's most powerful people.The target is her uncle, the president of the United States.Her new book about Donald Trump is decidedly unique in the annals of presidential biographies: the author purporting to probe the president's mind not only has personal access to family gossip but also professional credentials as a clinical psychologist. There is deep debate in her field about the ethics of making public pronouncements on the mental health of a public figure — especially one she's never clinically observed.In Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man, Mary Trump describes the president's father — her grandfather — as a high-functioning sociopath and blames him for instilling in his children the value of aggression and the notion that kindness is weakness.She suggests the most damaged of the siblings is Donald Trump who, she said, has a variety of psychological impairments: definitely narcissism, for which she says he meets all nine criteria, but probably other conditions. She lists as possibilities antisocial personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, a learning disorder and sleep disorder.The president of the United States, in her opinion, struggles to control his impulses; tell the truth; learn new facts; apologize for mistakes; and lives in constant terror of having people perceive his flaws.She said she was traumatized by his 2016 election win, and feared that her uncle was uniquely ill-qualified to govern in a crisis."It felt as though 62,979,636 voters had chosen to turn this country into a macro version of my malignantly dysfunctional family," writes Mary Trump, whose immediate family has feuded bitterly with the rest of the Trumps ever since it was sidelined from the grandparents' wills.   "Donald's pathologies are so complex and his behaviours so often inexplicable that coming up with an accurate and comprehensive diagnosis would require a full battery of psychological and neuropsychological tests that he'll never sit for."She wrote that she hoped her book would put to rest the idea that Trump deploys strategies or has a tangible agenda — when his only aim is to protect his own fragile ego and have others see him as strong and smart.The White House press secretary has called her work "a book of falsehoods." The Trump family lawyer has sued to try blocking its distribution, alleging violation of a nondisclosure agreement.But on the broader issue of global public interest, the mental state of the U.S. president, what do Mary Trump's colleagues say?CBC News reached out to about two dozen psychologists at U.S. universities who study pathologies, and asked two questions: * Is it ethically permissible to write what Mary Trump wrote? * Do they agree with what she's written about the president, based on excerpts they've seen from media reports on the book?There's a formal taboo in psychiatry against opining publicly on public figures, named after Barry Goldwater, a presidential candidate who successfully sued a magazine that ran a series of psychiatrist opinions on him.Psychology does not have the same so-called Goldwater rule but also has professional standards discouraging public speculation about people's mental health. Nearly all the experts contacted by CBC News declined to comment, several citing various reasons: ethical considerations, fear of professional consequences and fear of harassment from Trump supporters. "All of the above," said one clinical psychologist, who requested not to be named, when asked why people wouldn't comment on the record.She said people in her profession could face expensive lawsuits, or lose career opportunities with public organizations if they're perceived to have a political bias, which she said would be "career suicide" for some. She also mentioned "intimidation.""I wouldn't want someone coming to my house and saying, 'How dare you say this?'" she said.She did agree to speak without being named. Several others responded to a request for comment by offering the names of two colleagues quoted here, who have previously spoken publicly.Here are their answers, which have been edited for clarity.Is it ethically permissible to write what Mary Trump wrote?Josh Miller, a clinical psychologist and director of clinical training at the University of Georgia, defended the author: "Does the Goldwater rule apply to psychologists, and does it make a great deal of sense in the modern day?... I think we sometimes privilege the idea that you can only make a diagnosis if you're treating a patient. But psychiatrists make diagnoses after one 50-minute session, or three, or four, all the time. We surely all have much more information on Donald Trump at this point in time than a mental-health professional would after somewhere between 50 and 200 minutes. Then, a family member … I think clearly has much more information than a mental-health professional ever would. The ethics? I don't know — I personally fall into the category that there is a duty to warn about potentially the most important person in the world and whether they have a pattern of personality traits that portend quite poorly."So did Donald Lynam, a distinguished professor of clinical psychology at Purdue University: "I don't have a real problem with a trained professional who has access to lots of behavioural data on a person making an assessment like this.… I personally think that there is more than enough longitudinal life-history data available on many persons in the public eye that would enable professionals to make such assessments. I think Trump is no exception. He has always been a very public figure. Many books and stories have been written about his behaviour."Another clinical psychologist who works in the Washington, D.C., area, and asked not to be named, offered a more nuanced view: "The only ethical concern I can see is when someone puts their clinical hat on to diagnose, treat or make clinical recommendations based on a personal story … not rooted in data. That's where, in my view, we run across some ethical grey zones. When we combine someone who has a title, and knowledge about a particular field, and offers an opinion, we can easily interpret that this is their professional opinion as opposed to a personal opinion. That can become very blurry.… One of the reasons psychology is a science-based field is we root our conclusions in data, in scientific principles. … [Otherwise] it becomes a question of opinion and that's where biases can come from.… If a patient comes into my office and I really don't [like] them … I still have to give them a fair and objective treatment, or I have to identify that I'm too biased to be able to evaluate them and refer out.… That's why we use questionnaires, and ink-blot cards we give people sometimes ... [to] test a hypothesis. ...There is also a very high risk of bias when there's a particular family member who is not someone's favourite."  Do you agree with what she's written about the president?Miller: "[On narcissism] I agree entirely. 'Prototypical' doesn't describe the degree to which [Trump] meets the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Many of us who study it say that if we [described a character like his in a paper] other peer reviewers would say, 'You've made up too cartoonish of a case.' They wouldn't believe it would be possible. That's how incredibly well he fits those symptoms. I've viewed Donald Trump as an example of narcissism going back 15 years. Long before he was running for president, long before he was associated with the Republican Party. Literally, going back into the mid-2000s … at academic talks he was one of the pictures I would put up. This is hardly new.… Narcissism is associated with aggression, in general, and specifically under an ego-threat. When someone has criticized you, we're going to see lashing out.… An inability to accept blame — it's always someone else's fault.… To not admit one's mistakes ...that inability to admit that one has ever been wrong is a really huge problem…. I agree that we should not be distracted by his narcissism from his psychopathy…. Search for the criteria for psychopathy. Look at traits and behaviours in the psychopathy checklist written by Hare. Grapple with how many would he not fit there. And psychopathy is associated much more strongly than narcissism with behaviours that are particularly scary.… It's the callousness, irresponsibility, impulse-control problems, lack of remorse or shame."Lynam: "I agree that Trump meets most, if not all, of the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder.... He certainly meets more than enough to deserve the diagnosis. I am not sure that I would say he has other pathologies, but I would say that he appears to have some additional traits outside of the ones included in NPD that make him more 'disturbed.' I think he is reckless, impulsive, unreliable and dishonest. There are some stories that suggest a tendency towards antisocial behaviour.... I am hesitant to say this, but I think the other diagnosis that should be considered is psychopathy... I have seen some commentators refer to a similar construct to psychopathy with the term 'malignant narcissism.' The only part with which I might disagree with Mary Trump (based on reported details of the book) is that I am not sure it is possible to pinpoint causes for these traits. It could be due to his father's treatment of him. It could be due to the genes he shares with his father. It could be due to a host of factors. I would not speculate on that."Anonymous: "[Mary Trump's book is] informative, but it's not surprising.… Is it really surprising to many of us, the things that may come out of this book? Do we need a book? … You just have to open the DSM [the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders].… [Mary Trump] is a legitimate author. She is not a pop-psychologist. Again, her only bias is that she's a family member."

  • Justin Trudeau drops into another pitfall of his own making

    Justin Trudeau drops into another pitfall of his own making

    Justin Trudeau and his government have shown a remarkable ability to find trouble in novel places — a Christmas vacation, the Shawcross doctrine and the possibility of a deferred prosecution agreement for SNC-Lavalin, the prime minister's choice of attire during a trip to India.And now, a national program for student volunteers.News that a subsidiary of the WE Charity paid Trudeau's mother and brother for speaking engagements raises further questions about the government's decision to enlist WE to disperse the funds from that program — and the prime minister's apparent involvement in signing off on that decision.It inflames doubts that were already being raised about the intent behind the government's decision to partner with WE.But it also makes one wonder why the prime minister keeps putting himself in these situations.WE insisted at first that "the charity" had "never paid an honorarium" to Margaret Trudeau, the former wife of Pierre Trudeau, who is known for her advocacy on the issue of mental health. In some cases, that statement now appears to be incorrect: the charity did pay Margaret Trudeau for some appearances, though WE now claims that was a paperwork error. But WE's original claim also elided over the fact that its for-profit arm, ME to WE, had paid the prime minister's mother.For WE, it's impossible to justify that omission. For Trudeau, the newest facts make it much more difficult for him to explain why he went anywhere near this decision.Trudeau insists that the recommendation to partner with WE came from public service officials and an associate deputy minister has defended the choice. A committee of the House of Commons has requested the internal documentation related to the government's decision and the paper trail will now be studied closely.But even a recommendation from a non-partisan public servant won't be enough to entirely redeem what has happened here.Even without the participation of Trudeau and his family members in WE events, it's now obvious that the charity's involvement would have attracted WE's various critics regardless. In fact, it was criticism of WE's general practices and new complaints about how it was administering the volunteer program that compelled the government and the charity to walk away from their arrangement last week.A scandal in plain sightThat false start has real implications for a program that is supposed to be creating opportunities for young people.But the demise of the partnership was not enough to end the controversy because of the known ties between Trudeau and WE. In addition to the appearances by Margaret and Alexandre Trudeau, Justin Trudeau has made several appearances as prime minister at WE events and Sophie Gregoire Trudeau hosts a podcast for WE (she is not paid for that, though she was paid for an appearance in 2012).That was always going to be enough to raise suspicions. The fact that Margaret and Sacha were paid for their appearances now adds money to the mix.Maybe, by some strict reading of the applicable rules, the Liberals can argue that Trudeau's involvement in the decision to go forward with WE didn't amount to a conflict of interest. That ultimately will be up to the ethics commissioner to decide. But the prime minister himself could have eliminated the possibility of any conflict — simply by stepping back and excusing himself from any participation in the decision.As Trudeau acknowledged earlier this week, he did not recuse himself. And now he faces the possibility of a third reprimand by the ethics commissioner — after earlier rulings against that vacation on the Aga Khan's private island and the government's handling of the SNC-Lavalin case.Some may choose to believe that there was corruption in any or all of those cases. A final verdict on the current controversy will depend on both documentation and the testimony of officials. But even a less-damning read of the last five years is unflattering.Self-inflicted woundsFor whatever reason, the prime minister and his office seem to have a recurring problem of failing to check themselves. As a result, they have now repeatedly wrecked themselves.Perhaps believing their motives are sound and their intentions are good — and that meaning well should transcend all potential problems — they have waltzed into a series of avoidable spectacles.In each case, it seems as if someone (not least the prime minister himself) should have seen the trouble coming — that what this government lacks is someone willing to put their hand up and ask, "Wait, are we sure about this?" (In that respect, Trudeau's worst moments as prime minister might have something in common with his infamous decision to wear blackface in previous years — the lack of an internal or external voice counselling caution.)Trudeau's life has played out at a rarified level, where your father can be a friend of the Aga Khan and your mother and your brother can be celebrities who get paid to speak. Someone from that world should be keenly aware of how vulnerable he is to the charge of being out-of-touch — should know how dangerous it is to leave the impression that the standards of mere mortals don't apply to him. And yet, more than once, he seems to have lost track of what is expected from a politician.Burning through the benefit of the doubtTrudeau's Liberals came to power having made many promises to do big things. They might tell themselves now that their electoral fortunes still depend ultimately on getting those big things right — on the economy, equality, climate change, and so on. There is still a pandemic to battle. But ethics and judgment and character become big things when people in public life leave room for doubt — when they can be labelled arrogant, or entitled, or worse.It also gets much harder to do those big things every time you turn a Christmas vacation or a student volunteer program into a multi-chapter affair of revelation and recrimination.In the absence of the WE controversy, the focus of political attention in Ottawa yesterday might have been the new jobs numbers, or the testimony of grocery store executives who recently withdrew a wage bonus for their employees. The Liberals might only have had to worry about how they were going to manage the economy's restart and the government's fiscal situation.Instead, the prime minister is being asked again to account for actions that apparently weren't accounted for very well to begin with.

  • Ontario reports 130 new COVID-19 cases while 18 public health units record no new cases at all

    Ontario reports 130 new COVID-19 cases while 18 public health units record no new cases at all

    Ontario reported 130 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday with eighteen public health unit recording no new cases at all.A total of 28 of the province's 34 public health units are reporting five or fewer cases.New cases are concentrated in Toronto and the Peel, York, Windsor-Essex, Durham and Ottawa regions, with 42, 26, 12, 12, 11 and 9 respectively.Saturday's new COVID-19 figures represent a 4 per cent overall increase and bring Ontario's cumulative total since the outbreak began to 36,594.Ontario's health ministry considers 32,422 of those cases — or 88.6 per cent — resolved.The number of patients in Ontario hospitals with confirmed infections of the novel coronavirus increased by 11 and now sits at 128.Thirty-one people are being treated in intensive care units, while 18 of those are on ventilators, a drop of six since Friday. Ontario's network of about 30 community, commercial and hospital labs processed 29,522 test samples for the novel coronavirus on Friday. An additional 22,083 tests are currently under investigation. The province reported another six deaths on Friday, bringing its official death toll to 2,716. But a CBC News count based on data provided by public health units puts the actual toll at 2,752.Windsor-Essex asks Ottawa to tackle outbreaks in farms The latest numbers come as officials in Ontario's Windsor-Essex region are calling on the provincial or federal government to manage COVID-19 outbreaks in farms.Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said there have been instances where "the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing," and having a lead agency would help prevent that confusion.Leamington Mayor Hilda MacDonald said there should be incentives for farms to have their workers tested, or fines for those who refuse.Hundreds of migrant workers have tested positive for the virus, and three have died — two of them in Windsor-Essex and one in Norfolk County.Annual Pottahawk boat party still going aheadMeanwhile, Norfolk County officials say they are surprised and disappointed the Pottahawk boat party is going ahead.The so-called "Pottahawk Pissup" happens every second Sunday in July off Turkey Point in Lake Erie.The party, located in London, Ont., draws as many as 10,000 people from across Ontario and the U.S."I wish it was cancelled this year," Jim Millson, Norfolk County's bylaw supervisor and a retired OPP officer., said."Not to ruin anyone's fun, but why take a chance? We've seen what happened in the United States." OPP vessels will be patrolling the water and local bylaw officers will be at piers reminding people to maintain physical distancing. Millson is also asking people not to pass food or drinks between boats.COVID-19 complicates an event already known for its safety issues. Party-goers have been charged with assault, and those who hitchhike have sometimes ended up stranded, calling out for help in a dark, remote location.At the province's daily COVID-19 update on Friday, Premier Doug Ford said he doesn't think it's "right" that the party is proceeding as planned."I'm just not in favour of this, unless people want to stay on their own boat or pleasure craft," he said. And despite the pressure he has faced, Ford said he's in no rush to move into Ontario's Stage 3 of reopening. "We're going to get there," he said. "I am going to make sure we are careful and go by the guidance of our medical health team."

  • Quebec arts scene shaken by wave of anonymous sex misconduct allegations
    The Canadian Press

    Quebec arts scene shaken by wave of anonymous sex misconduct allegations

    MONTREAL — Quebec's arts scene is being rocked by a wave of sexual assault and harassment allegations against well-known figures in the province's entertainment industry.Mostly anonymous allegations are being posted to an Instagram page that has garnered more than 49,000 followers and is focused on prominent Quebecers, including musicians, concert promoters and comedians. The page, which is less than a week old, contains more than 80 posts.One of the biggest names to fall is David Desrosiers, bassist for Montreal rock band Simple Plan, who said Thursday he is leaving the group after he was anonymously accused on the social network of predatory behaviour against his female fans.The accuser posted Wednesday that Desrosiers started making inappropriate "jokes" with her when she was a minor, and they had consensual sex after she came of age. She alleged he invited others for group sex without asking and threatened and demeaned her.Desrosiers wrote on Instagram that allegations "have led me to acknowledge that some of the interactions I have had with women have caused them harm." In a statement on Instagram, Simple Plan also apologized to the women affected as well as fans who are disappointed by the "regretful situation."Maripier Morin, a major TV personality in Quebec, has apologized publicly and La Presse reported she has put her career on pause after singer Safia Nolin posted to the Instagram page July 8 — with a copy on her personal page as well — accusations that Morin uttered racist statements in her presence and bit her on the thigh in 2018.Nolin wrote that Morin made a derogatory comment after learning she was of Arab descent. Nolin said Morin also made racist comments about a Black bartender."After that, she bit me on the thigh so hard that I had an enormous bruise for two weeks," Nolin said.According to multiple media reports, Morin apologized on her Instagram page, said she remembered the night in question and called her actions "reprehensible" without going into details. By Friday, however, Morin had removed the posts from her Instagram page, which is followed by almost 550,000 people.Bell Media said Friday it has dropped all the shows it carried on its streaming networks featuring Morin.Company spokesman Patrick Tremblay said in an email: "We respect the decision by Maripier Morin to put her professional activities on pause. For that reason, we are pulling all the shows that feature her from our platforms Z, VRAK and Crave."Quebec singer-songwriter Bernard Adamus was dropped from his label following an anonymous post to the Instagram page accusing him of improprieties.Adamus replied Thursday on his Instagram that he had been vulgar, arrogant and drunk too many times in his life, and he apologized to all the women he's hurt.ADISQ, the association representing Quebec's music industry, issued a statement Friday saying that its board of directors has decided to exclude Adamus from nominations for its annual awards.The statement said the industry is made up of "honest, professional and devoted artists and workers, and it is essential not to let the reprehensible actions of certain individuals tarnish the entire sector."The Montreal police confirmed Friday the force "is aware" of the Instagram page and the accusations. "However, in order to conduct an investigation, there needs to be an official complaint filed," a spokesperson for the police said in an email.The police did not say if they had received any official complaints tied to the accusations on the Instagram page.This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2020.Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Press

  • Comet streaking past Earth, providing spectacular show
    The Canadian Press

    Comet streaking past Earth, providing spectacular show

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A newly discovered comet is streaking past Earth, providing a stunning nighttime show after buzzing the sun and expanding its tail.Comet Neowise — the brightest comet visible from the Northern Hemisphere in a quarter-century — swept within Mercury’s orbit a week ago. Its close proximity to the sun caused dust and gas to burn off its surface and create an even bigger debris tail. Now the comet is headed our way, with closest approach in two weeks.NASA's Neowise infrared space telescope discovered the comet in March.Scientists involved in the mission said the comet is about 3 miles (5 kilometres) across. Its nucleus is covered with sooty material dating back to the origin of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago.The comet will be visible across the Northern Hemisphere until mid-August, when it heads back toward the outer solar system. While it's visible with the naked eye in dark skies with little or no light pollution, binoculars are needed to see the long tail, according to NASA.It will be about 7,000 years before the comet returns, “so I wouldn't suggest waiting for the next pass,” said the telescope's deputy principal investigator Joe Masiero of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.He said it is the brightest comet since the mid-1990s for stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere.Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have already caught a glimpse.NASA's Bob Behnken shared a spectacular photo of the comet on social media late Thursday, showing central Asia in the background and the space station in the foreground."Stars, cities, spaceships, and a comet!" he tweeted from orbit.___The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press

  • U.S. departure from WHO another 'big headache for Canada'
    Yahoo News Canada

    U.S. departure from WHO another 'big headache for Canada'

    The U.S is no stranger to departing major global organizations, but the ramifications of this particular exit could spell costly for current member nations, including their closest ally in Canada.  

  • Testing during worst of Alberta's outbreak suggests COVID-19 wasn't slipping into hospitals undetected

    Testing during worst of Alberta's outbreak suggests COVID-19 wasn't slipping into hospitals undetected

    A pilot project conducted at three Alberta hospitals at the height of the pandemic shows patients were not being admitted with undetected cases of COVID-19. Over a six-week period, between April 9 and May 23, all patients admitted through the emergency departments at the Peter Lougheed Centre in Calgary, the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton and the Red Deer Regional Hospital were screened for symptoms and tested for COVID-19. This was done regardless of whether or not any symptoms were identified.The testing project was carried out to provide a snapshot of just how often asymptomatic carriers of the virus that causes COVID-19 were presenting to the ER — and to address concerns about potential transmission to health-care workers or other patients in the hospitals.During the pilot project, 3,304 people were admitted through the ERs at the three hospitals and screened for symptoms.Of the 1,814 patients deemed asymptomatic, no cases of COVID-19 were found."Actually, we were a little surprised," said Dr. Braden Manns, the co-chair of the scientific advisory group for Alberta Health Services, a professor at the University of Calgary and and one of the authors of the review."This was happening right at the peak of all the outbreaks in Calgary. It was happening at the height of our reproducible number for the virus.… I think we all thought we would probably see around one per cent of people who ended up testing positive."Of the patients deemed symptomatic, 4.5 per cent tested positive across the three sites, with the highest positive rate at the Peter Lougheed Hospital in Calgary (7.5 per cent)."So it wasn't like there was nobody testing positive out there. But when you carefully screened people, you could identify who needed to be screened and then who would need to be isolated in the hospital as well to keep staff safe," said Manns."It's really important people continue to be vigilant and screen carefully for those types of symptoms and for risk that indicates you need to be tested."The review concludes current screening measures at Alberta hospitals appear effective."This suggests that careful assessment of symptoms during the admission process is effective at identifying patients who should be tested (and isolated) in the context of hospital admission. Given the state of the current pandemic in Alberta (a low reproductive number and low daily case numbers), screening people without symptoms who are admitted to hospital through the emergency department and who are at low risk is not supported," the review's authors stated."This recommendation may need to be re-evaluated should higher levels of community transmission be encountered as relaxation of social distancing and other control measures occurs."Officials keep an eye on outbreak at Misericordia HospitalThe review was conducted prior to the outbreak at Edmonton's Misericordia hospital.Five deaths are now linked to that outbreak — Alberta Health reported Friday that one death, previously believed to be connected, had been reclassified.An additional 36 cases had been confirmed as of Friday, including patients, staff and two cases in the community.Alberta Health Services says it carefully screens all hospital patients for symptoms and potential exposure when they arrive at the hospital.According to AHS, those who are found to have symptoms are tested. And, since May 30, AHS says it's offered asymptomatic testing to people who request it in emergency rooms and urgent care centres.Patients are regularly monitored for symptoms once admitted, according to AHS."As the pilot project concluded, careful and vigorous assessment of symptoms during the admission process has been shown to be effective at identifying patients who should be tested (and isolated)," an AHS spokesperson said in a statement emailed to CBC News."At this time, our current screening and testing protocols, including voluntary asymptomatic testing in EDs and UCCs, continues. However, we are carefully monitoring the situation at the Misericordia and we will reassess our protocols accordingly."

  • News
    The Canadian Press

    Police apologize after 911 call where white woman reports Black man in a park

    OTTAWA — A Black man from Ottawa says he wants to hear the full recording of a 911 call made about him by a white woman, after police apologized for their role in the incident.Ntwali Bashizi, 21, says he was taking a break from cycling on a trail bridge in a city park on Monday when the woman approached him and asked him to get off so she could pass from a distance.He says he told the woman she could pass with no problem because the bridge was about as wide as the rest of the trail, but told her she could wait until he was done resting if she wanted to.Bashizi says he started recording the interaction after the woman started taking photos of him and called someone on her phone.A video of the incident posted on Twitter this week shows the woman walking past Bashizi on the bridge while describing him on the phone to a 911 operator.In the video, posted by Bashizi's older brother, the woman turns the call to speakerphone so the operator can talk to Bashizi."Sir, it's the Ottawa police. Do I really need to send a police officer just for you let this girl by?" the operator asks in the video."I'm not stopping her from coming by," Bashizi replies before being interrupted."You're intimidating her, sir, okay, can you just stand to the side?" the operator says, as Bashizi replies that he's already doing so.Bashizi remains at a distance from the woman throughout the video and she eventually walks away while still on the phone.The police force replied to the Twitter video on Thursday, saying they have spoken with the man who posted it to offer a "full and unreserved apology.""We are fully reviewing this incident," the police force wrote on Twitter. "At this point it is clear that this was not an appropriate use of the 911 system and the service did not act appropriately in handling the call."Bashizi said he would like to see the woman identified and charged with any applicable crime, although police say they have not laid any charges at this time.The Canadian Press has not been able to identify the woman involved."I honestly want to know what was going on in her head at the time," Bashizi said in an interview, adding that the woman was visibly afraid although he said he didn't approach her throughout the interaction."I just want to understand, or I want her to tell me what was so threatening about me. Why she allowed other people to walk by her but she couldn't walk by me."Bashizi's brother, Joakim Bashizi, said the incident is an example of racial prejudice in Canada."I need people — and especially white people — to understand that Black people do not have to explain themselves unless they're committing a crime," said Joakim. "You never see Black people going around and asking white people what they're doing playing hockey in the middle of the street."The two men say police have invited them for a tour of the station, where Ntwali said he'll ask for the full audio from the 911 call.The incident comes months after an incident in New York's Central Park, which a white woman called police after a Black man requested that she leash her dog.In that video, the woman — since identified as Amy Cooper — told the man that she'd call police and tell them he was threatening her.She then called police and told the operator that the man was threatening as he stood at a distance from her.Cooper has since been charged with filing a false police report and fired from her job over the May incident.She has apologized and said she reacted emotionally and made false assumptions about the man's intentions.Elsewhere in the U.S., legislative measures have been proposed to criminalize discriminatory and racist 911 calls.The Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies (CAREN) Act, put forward by a San Francisco politician, is named after the slang term "Karen," which has been used to describe white women calling police with outrageous and demonstrably false allegations against people of colour.— By Salmaan Farooqui in Toronto, with files from Associated PressThis report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2020. The Canadian Press

  • Science

    Scientists surprised at Fort McMurray fire's long impact on rivers

    Four years after its flames guttered out, the record-breaking Fort McMurray wildfire continues to astound — this time with its lasting impact on an extensive river system."It's actually stunning that we were able to observe an effect at that large scale," said Uldis Silins, a University of Alberta professor and co-author of a recently published study on how the 2016 blaze affected the Athabasca River.In May 2016, the fire swept through nearly 6,000 square kilometres of boreal forest in northern Alberta. Fort McMurray lost 2,400 buildings, and 88,000 people were forced from their homes.With damage estimates of $10 billion, it was the most expensive natural disaster in Canadian history.Almost immediately after the city was safely cleared, Silins and his colleagues were flown in as part of an emergency reaction team to assess the threat to Fort McMurray's water supply.Previous research has looked at how wildfires affect headwater streams in the mountains. But nobody had looked at their impacts on a large, slow, boreal river winding through wetlands."The extent to which the fire would impact water was highly uncertain," Silins said.'A very, very large watershed'For seven months, the team sampled and tested the Athabasca and several tributaries upstream of Fort McMurray.The Athabasca is huge — nearly a kilometre across in many places — and it drains nearly one-quarter of Alberta. It's tea-coloured and turbid, full of organic material.The scientists were amazed when, every time it rained, they were able to detect significant increases in ash, potassium, nitrogen, calcium and heavy metals such as lead even within the river's normal load."It's a very, very large watershed," Silins said. "We really were not expecting to see any impact at that scale."Those impacts are magnified because tributary water doesn't mix evenly with the Athabasca's main flow."You've got a river the colour of chocolate milk and these small tributaries during certain events — a good rain, for example — look like hot fudge," said co-author Monica Emelko of the University of Waterloo."That hot-fudge sauce doesn't necessarily mix in. That plume that extended for a very long distance, hugging the riverbank, is likely what was making its way into the water treatment plant in Fort McMurray."The fire residue also makes it harder to manage bacteria in the city's reservoir.Fort McMurray's water safeEmelko said the city's water has remained safe — it's just harder and more expensive to make it so. City officials have said treatment costs increased 50 per cent after the fire."There is a very clear signature of the wildfire on drinking water supply and treatment in Fort McMurray," Emelko said. "The community is paying a continued cost because of the fire." In most places, fire impacts on watersheds quickly dissipate. Studies on several Alberta fires in the foothills and the Rocky Mountains, however, show that hasn't been the case.Scientists believe the lingering presence of fire-related material could be related to the province's geology being rich in fine-grained sediments."There, we have certainly seen a long persistence of those fire effects — far longer than has been reported in most other regions worldwide," Silins said.Climate and forest scientists have long suggested that huge fires such as the one dubbed "the Beast" in Fort McMurray are going to become more common as warmer temperatures dry forests out and extend the burning season."As climates have shifted, and we're very clearly seeing a shift in wildfire behaviour, we're going to see these kinds of impacts on water more and more often," Silins said."Fires are impacting a far broader range of ecosystem values and human values than we thought. This is something we're going to have deal with on a far more regular basis."

  • Enbridge billed eatery for $4,000 worth of gas it didn't use during COVID-19 shutdown, owner says

    Enbridge billed eatery for $4,000 worth of gas it didn't use during COVID-19 shutdown, owner says

    An owner of one of Toronto's most iconic downtown restaurants says Enbridge Gas billed him for thousands of dollars worth of gas his eatery didn't use while it was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.Andre Rosenbaum says the Queen Mother Cafe was forced to close its doors on March 15 and it didn't reopen until the middle of last month. But he calculates the difference between what Enbridge charged for and the gas the restaurant actually used is $4,000. "We were struggling, we had zero income during that period, and it was a really, really tough challenge," Rosenbaum told CBC News. Enbridge says it's been forced to estimate its customers' gas usage during the pandemic and is willing to adjust the bill if "we have overestimated" it.But that doesn't satisfy Rosenbaum."I feel they're taking us for a ride. I think it's cruel, I think it's unfair, unsympathetic. It's adding a burden to small businesses that need every spare penny now and I'm just completely and utterly offended," he said.The well-known spot, which has been a fixture on Queen Street West near University Avenue since 1978, reopened for takeout and delivery on June 17. The restaurant started serving diners on its patio a week later. But because of physical distancing restrictions that are still in place, the Queen Mum can seat only about 20 people — a far cry from its normal capacity of approximately 150 customers.Some suppliers were compassionate and made arrangements to defer or reduce payments.Enbridge did allow the restaurant to consolidate its bills, but when Rosenbaum started paying them he says he noticed they were high, even for the period they'd been closed. So he called customer service."They said because of COVID we can't send out technicians to check the meters, so we have to estimate."  He says he was told if he provided an accurate meter reading, his bill will be adjusted. "Why are they charging people huge estimated readings based on January, February and March when there was heating going on, and they also know that after that many of us were shuttered? It's absolutely crazy," he said."They are just taking money that they must realize it's very, very difficult for us to be paying for and they have not earned."Happy to 'rectify the issue,' Enbridge saysIn a statement to CBC Toronto, a senior communications adviser with Enbridge Gas confirms that the company is following the latest guidance provided by public health officials and government authorities. "Our meter readers are taking extra precautions to keep the public safe. We have suspended reading meters located inside homes and businesses, and outside meters are only read once every other month," Leanne McNaughton wrote.She says Enbridge uses customers' gas-use history, expected gas rates and weather forecasts to estimate monthly billings."If we have overestimated, we are happy to work with this customer to rectify the issue," said McNaughton, adding that customers are also welcome to submit their meter readings online.The company also postponed its regular quarterly rate adjustment for July, so rates did not increase.But Ryan Mallough, the director of provincial affairs for Ontario at the Canadian Federation of Business, says this is kind of thing that small businesses do not need as they struggle to recover."On the face of it, it's pretty silly," he said."We all know that most of the businesses across Ontario have been shut down for three months and that their gas usage has been very little at best."And while it's nice that Enbridge will help correct the bills by allowing small businesses to send in their gas readings, it's "just an added piece of stress," he says. "It shows a lack of understanding about what businesses in this province are going through."

  • Survey suggests 40 per cent of Alberta doctors have considered leaving province
    The Canadian Press

    Survey suggests 40 per cent of Alberta doctors have considered leaving province

    CALGARY — A survey by the Alberta Medical Association suggests more than 40 per cent of the province's physicians have at least considered looking for work elsewhere in Canada.The group blames the potential exodus on the United Conservative government's announced changes to how doctors are paid.Some of the measures announced in February were rolled back during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the government and the association remain at odds, and Premier Jason Kenney has said compensation needs to be reined in.The survey found 87 per cent of Alberta doctors were making changes to their practices, including layoffs, reduced hours, early retirement and possibly leaving Alberta.The medical association is taking the province to court, alleging breaches of charter rights because it was not given access to third- party arbitration.Health Minister Tyler Shandro said it's questionable whether doctors would leave for other provinces, where they would earn far less than under Alberta's funding arrangement.He said the AMA has never presented a credible proposal to keep physician spending at $5.4 billion annually. Alberta's United Conservative government's filed a statement of defence to the lawsuit this week, arguing the province has engaged with doctors in good faith."The AMA needs to stop playing games and start taking the economic crisis facing this province and this country seriously," Shandro said in a statement Friday. "We’re still offering to hold our spending at the highest level in Canada, and, frankly, that commitment is looking more generous by the day, considering the fiscal situation in this province and this country."The government is looking into publicizing physician compensation, as it does for other public servants, he added.Kenney, asked by reporters Friday about the conflict, said "we are going through a fiscal and economic crisis and everybody needs to be part of the solution."In the past five years, the average private sector after-tax income has declined by 10 per cent. Most people in the government sector have been frozen over the past five years. But physicians, who are the best compensated people in the public sector, have seen a 23 per cent increase in their compensation over four years."That simply is not sustainable."AMA president Dr. Christine Molnar said she can't blame doctors for wanting to protect their livelihoods and calls the Alberta government's actions "reckless.""Physicians have reached a breaking point," Molnar said in a release Friday. "I'm deeply troubled by where this is going and what it’s going to mean for medical practices and patients in the coming months."Opposition NDP health critic David Shepherd said he was troubled, but not shocked, by the survey's results."Premier Jason Kenney and Health Minister Tyler Shandro are at war with Alberta doctors: tearing up their contract, cutting their pay, and imposing hundreds of pages of new paperwork in the middle of a public health emergency," the New Democrat said in a statement."Kenney and Shandro have smeared Alberta doctors at every turn, suggesting they are lazy, greedy and dishonest. It’s despicable."The AMA surveyed 1,470 physicians from across Alberta between June 24 and July 3. It says the results are accurate within 2.4 percentage points 19 times out of 20.— With files from Dean Bennett in EdmontonThis report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2020Lauren Krugel, The Canadian PressNote to readers: This is a corrected story; a previous version had physician spending at $5.4 million.

  • 5 people seriously injured in shooting in North York

    5 people seriously injured in shooting in North York

    Five people, including a woman and two men, were seriously injured after two suspects began "indiscriminantly" shooting at people in North York Friday night, Toronto police say.Police say the woman is in her 50s, one of the men is in his 30s, while the other is in his 40s. The sex and ages of the other two victims was not immediately known.One of the men is listed in life-threatening condition, although it's not yet clear yet which one.  Shortly before 10:30 p.m., police received reports of multiple gunshots in the area of Jane Street and Woolner Avenue. When officers arrived at the scene they found three victims in serious condition. One of the victims was transported to a trauma centre, while the other two were taken to a local hospital.Police later said two other victims made their way to hospital on their own.Police say the victims were shot by two men in a black sedan who were shooting indiscriminately. Both suspects drove away after the shooting.Police described the crime scene as "large."Toronto police say this was one of five shootings that took place in the city on Friday. 'No regard for human life' Initial reports indicate that the suspects with "no regard for human life just took it upon themselves to shoot out of their vehicle at anybody who was in the area," Insp. Norm Proctor told reporters at the scene Friday evening. "It was completely reckless." Proctor said at this point, there is no evidence that the victims shot back at any time during the incident. Proctor said police would like to speak with the multiple witnesses that were on scene that had left. Anyone with information is asked to contact police or leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers.

  • Shamon Brown Jr. on playing fan favorite ‘Papa’ on ‘The Chi’
    Canadian Press Videos

    Shamon Brown Jr. on playing fan favorite ‘Papa’ on ‘The Chi’

    Shamon Brown Jr. says originally, his beloved character Papa on “The Chi” was only supposed to be in a couple of episodes, but producers wrote him into more scenes. He also says the show’s storyline fills in the gaps as several key actors are no longer on the show. (July 10)

  • Conservatives say police should be called in to investigate WE charity scandal
    The Canadian Press

    Conservatives say police should be called in to investigate WE charity scandal

    OTTAWA — Calls for independent review of the Liberal government giving a sole-source contract to the WE organization intensified Friday with the Conservatives demanding police step in and the NDP asking the ethics commissioner to add the finance minister to the list of those he's investigating.The Conservatives said they want a criminal investigation into the government's decision to have WE run a $900-million program for student volunteers.Though an ethics investigation into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is already underway, new facts add to the seriousness of the issue, Conservative ethics critic Michael Barrett said."The revelation that $350,000 in cash was paid by this organization to immediate members of Justin Trudeau's family, that organization that he awarded a sole-sourced $1-billion contract to, that revelation raises the need for the police to take a look at it," he said.Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion had announced a week before he'd probe whether Trudeau broke conflict of interest law.The Conflict of Interest Act calls on a holder of a public office, including a minister, to "recuse himself or herself from any discussion, debate or vote on any matter in respect of which he or she would be in a conflict of interest."And it describes a conflict of interest as a situation where an office holder "exercises an official power, duty or function that provides an opportunity to advance his or her private interests or those of his or her relatives or friends or to improperly further another person's private interests."There are long-standing ties between the WE organization and the Trudeau family. Trudeau, his mother Margaret, brother Alexandre and wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, have all appeared at the group's many events.Margaret Trudeau has a profile as a mental health advocate and has been in the public eye for decades.On Thursday, the WE organization said she had been paid about $250,000 for 28 speaking appearances between 2016 and 2020.Alexandre, who is a filmmaker, has been paid $32,000 for eight events, according to WE.The organization that represents them as speakers was paid additional commissions, WE said.And Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, who had a career in television, received $1,400 in 2012 for a single appearance that year.Most of the payments were from the organization's for-profit component, ME to WE Social Enterprise, which sponsors the charitable component, WE Charity said in a statement.Justin Trudeau was never paid for anything, said WE Charity.Trudeau's office has said "the prime minister's relatives engage with a variety of organizations and support many personal causes on their own accord."He also maintained the non-partisan public service recommended WE be paid $19.5 million to administer the $900 million Canada Student Services Grant program.Announced in June, the program will pay students $1,000 toward their education costs for every 100 hours of volunteering done through approved charities and non-profits.At the time, Trudeau said WE was the only organization in Canada with the reach and expertise needed to execute the plan.Placements are uncertain now that WE has withdrawn and the government has taken over.The ethics commissioner had announced his investigation also prior to Trudeau's admission that he did not recuse himself from cabinet approval of the deal. The NDP said Friday that the commissioner should now also investigate Finance Minister Bill Morneau for failing to do the same.One of Morneau's daughters has spoken at WE events in the past, though was not paid, and the other is currently working in the organization's travel department on a contract, Morneau's office confirmed."It would seem apparent that Minister Morneau would recognize that the fact that his family member was an employee of this organization necessitated him to recuse himself regarding this extraordinary decision to outsource nearly billion-dollar commitment of public funds in a single source contract," NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus wrote in a letter to the commissioner asking for an investigation.Morneau's spokesperson said there was no connection."There is absolutely no link between her employment and any work that WE does with the Government of Canada," said Morneau's spokesperson Maeva Proteau in an email.Liberal Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains and Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand were asked Friday, at an event in Oshawa, Ont., whether they knew about the payments from WE to the Trudeau family and whether the prime minister should have recused himself from the decision to award WE the contract.They ducked direct answers."We work very closely with the public servants who are non-partisan and they provided us with a clear set of recommendations and we followed those recommendations," Bains said. The section of the Criminal Code the Conservatives are suggesting could apply is the same one once used to charge former Conservative senator Mike Duffy in the Senate expenses scandal.It deals with frauds on the government, and creates offences related to government officials, or their families, benefiting from government contracts.Duffy was charged under section 121 of the Criminal Code for taking a $90,000 cheque from then-chief of staff to the prime minister, Nigel Wright, to repay his housing expenses.Duffy was also charged under section 122, for breach of trust. Advocacy group Democracy Watch called Friday for that section to applied to the WE matter and is filing its own complaint with the RCMP.Duffy was later acquitted on all charges. Though that verdict came after the Conservatives lost power, the scandal was a major distraction for the Conservatives in the waning days of their majority government.None of the three opposition parties have said they would consider trying to bring down the Liberal minority government over the WE scandal."We're looking to get the truth and accountability," the Conservatives' Barrett said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2020.—With files from Mia RabsonThe Canadian Press

  • How a Canadian woman pushed a popular South Asian matchmaking site to drop its skin-tone filter

    How a Canadian woman pushed a popular South Asian matchmaking site to drop its skin-tone filter

    When Meghan Nagpal decided to take her chances at finding love by signing up for a popular matchmaking website, she never expected to be asked to describe her skin tone — let alone the skin tone she would find desirable in a partner.About a year ago, Nagpal joined, a website that asks users to choose potential matches based on family background, status and body type. She said there was also a filter asking users for their preference of skin colour."I felt really uncomfortable," said the University of Toronto graduate student, who is originally from Vancouver. Nagpal soon deleted her account, but returned to the site last month after feeling some pressure from her mother to get married. She was again confronted with the skin-tone filter, which allowed users to select from "fair," "wheatish" or "dark."This time, after all the worldwide anti-racism protests inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, her discomfort turned to outrage.WATCH | Matchmaking site removes skin tone filter:The skin-tone filter, she said, sparked her realization that something needed to be done about what she called the South Asian community's bias against skin colour."There's a preference for fair skin in the culture when it comes to marriage and finding a life partner," she said.Discrimination within communities of colourTo Nagpal, the need to do something felt urgent because even though many prominent people in the South Asian community have come out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, there are still some, including Bollywood actors, who continue to promote creams that promise to lighten skin tone.Nagpal emailed the website, which is owned by a company based in Mumbai, India, hoping to get the skin-tone filter removed. She received a one-sentence response saying the filter was a popular feature with parents looking to arrange marriages for their children. "Most parents do require this as an option so it is visible on the site," read the response sent on June 10. Nagpal then posted the response to a Facebook group with more than 2,000 South Asian women in North America.Group members Hetal Lakhani and Roshni Patel got involved, creating an online petition to remove the filter.They argued that it perpetuates a form of racial discrimination known as shadeism or colourism that's prevalent in the South Asian community — with light skin being historically viewed as more desirable than dark.Skin-tone filters removedOvernight, the petition had amassed more than 1,400 signatures and Nagpal said the skin-tone filter was no longer on the site. In an email, a spokesperson for told CBC Toronto that they were not aware of the skin-tone filter and claimed it was a "non-functional aspect" of the site. "There is no skin colour filter on, on any of its platforms," the spokesperson said."[It] is a several year old product debris left-over in one of our advanced search pages on the website, which is non-functional and barely used and hence it did not come to our attention," the email reads."We do not discriminate based on skin colour and our member base is as diverse and pluralistic as the world today is." Two other prominent South Asian matrimonial sites — Bharat Matrimony and — were also pressured to remove skin-tone filters. CBC News contacted both websites for comment on this story, but received no response. 'Colourism is very easy to fester in communities'Thurka Gunaratnam, a filmmaker and educator based in Toronto who has focused on shadeism in her work, says the filter did not come as a shock to her. "When a group has been historically oppressed and they have not been given the freedom to understand what their own identity is, something like colourism is very easy to fester in communities," said Gunaratnam. Toronto-based writer and filmmaker Mirusha Yogarajah participated in a 2016 social media campaign called unfairandlovely. The campaign targeted the South Asian population in particular and was meant to tackle the issue of shadeism and the popularity of skin lightening creams — including one called "Fair and Lovely.""It's so embedded in us from such a young age, it just makes me really sad," Yogarajah told CBC News.She said women who are targeted by ad campaigns for the creams are "deeply impacted" by beauty standards, but that it "ultimately comes down to their value as a person." Prejudice should not be confused with preference, Gunaratnam said."In the wake of talking about colorism and racism, one thing that will help with unlearning is to really ask ourselves: Is it a preference or is it prejudice?"And if it's a preference, why is it that?"

  • Fatal Christmas Eve beatings leave family mourning troubled couple in love

    Fatal Christmas Eve beatings leave family mourning troubled couple in love

    When Nellie-Rae Willams saw two suspects beating her boyfriend François Shurie in Duncan on Christmas Eve, her mother, based on witness accounts, believes she tried to jump in to protect him, screaming at his attackers.The 29-year-old Ditidaht First Nations woman died four days after the brutal attack in her small hometown. Her 37-year-old partner died the night of the beating.More than six months later, the couple's double homicide is described as targeted and remains unsolved by the RCMP.On Facebook, sister-in-law Susie Cusson described Nellie-Rae Marie as a "little warrior." "She would fight to the death for anyone she loved and unfortunately she proved it," wrote Cusson.When her daughter died, so did Linda Williams' hope that she would see her take on the family legacy of carving totems."I miss her so much," said Williams, 58.She wants justice and to understand why it took so long for authorities to contact her."They treated Nellie like she was homeless and she had nobody, but I'm still here," said Williams.RCMP identified two persons of interest soon after the Christmas Eve attack that happened around 11 p.m.Witnesses caught the men on video just metres from the scene near Trunk Road and Government Street, as first responders worked to save the injured couple.Williams believes Shurie was the first attacked."They were happy because they just got word they get to see their their baby girl Christmas Day," she said.Williams was trying to help the pair escape their lifestyle of drugs and petty crime.People who knew Kaslo B.C.-raised Shurie describe a kind, funny, caring man who was skilled at building.'My heart goes numb'The couple had a daughter, and a plan to turn their lives around within five years."It was like those two fell in love and no one could get between them," said Williams.In his obituary, Shurie's family wrote a goodbye to the "sweet little boy we knew" who loved his child and remained kind despite a hard life.In Duncan, witnesses often approach Williams. She says they say they watched the fatal fight that left her daughter with multiple injuries, including a broken jaw."I talk with different people downtown. Some of them seen it. Some of them heard her screaming and crying and asking for help. My heart goes numb when I talk about this," said Williams.Growing up in Duncan, she says, her daughter Nellie played soccer, biked and skateboarded.When she was 13, she had her first child.Williams says Nellie's life spiralled downward after she was beaten "black and blue" by a former partner and lost custody of their children.Five of William's grandchildren are now in the care of foster or adoptive families.This is another tragic loss for the Nuu-chah-nulth woman.In 2010, her brother, 50-year-old John Williams, a celebrated carver, was shot and killed by a Seattle police officer. The shooting was ruled unjustified and the City of Seattle paid the family $1.5-million.Eight years later, her 36-year-old son, Daniel Williams, died of an opioid overdose.'You act like I'm not even here'RCMP say they spoke to Williams on Christmas Day and broke the news about Nellie.At first, all hoped Nellie would make it.Williams said she went to Victoria General Hospital after church Dec.25 with a prayer cloth and candle to pray by Nellie's bedside. But she only got to the door of Nellie's room where she said she saw four nurses around the bed of the young woman who was restrained and struggling.She said she was wasn't allowed to visit because of the ongoing criminal investigation and never got a chance to see or talk to her, as she'd hoped.After surgery on Dec. 27, it became clear that the Duncan woman would not survive. RCMP investigators knocked on her mother's door that afternoon.Williams said she spoke to the doctor and saw her daughter before she died, but Nellie never regained consciousness. She said it made her angry that she was not contacted sooner, so she could have said goodbye."I thought … how could you? How could you not let me see her that night? Why did you stop me from seeing her? Why did you wait until she died? I'm her mother. You act like I'm not even here."Dec. 28, police were notified that Williams was dead, and the investigation shifted from aggravated assault to homicide.These days, Williams keeps busy.She buried the couple side-by-side at the Duncan Indian Road Cemetery and is planning to carve a totem in memory of her daughter who she believes would have made a great mother "given half a chance." She keeps urging police to investigate, hoping the attackers are found, to give her daughter a sliver of justice.The Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit told CBC the case is ongoing. They urge anybody with information to call 250-380-6211.

  • Proposed changes to wills in B.C. draw support — and concern — about electronic documents

    Proposed changes to wills in B.C. draw support — and concern — about electronic documents

    When Vancouverite Jerrid Grimm's mother passed away in March 2017, he wasn't prepared for the mountain of tasks that would come within hours of her death.Luckily, his mother had planned for all of those details, leaving Grimm and his sisters to grieve her loss without that added stress."She had done an amazing job of having a will prepared," Grimm said. "I just realized what a gift that was."The process made Grimm, 40, realize the importance of leaving behind a will for his wife and two young children. But the prospect of lawyers and paperwork meant it would be another two years before he would do so.It wasn't until Grimm found a way to create a will online that he finally got around to preparing one last fall. He used Willful, an online service. In 20 minutes, he was done. And it only cost him about $100. Estimates vary, but surveys suggest only about 55 per cent of British Columbians have a will. Each year, the province encourages people to prepare one. The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a rush of British Columbians to plan their estates and assign power of attorney, and some experts hope recently proposed legislative changes to allow people to do so electronically will extend that trend.Last month, the province proposed permanent changes to the Wills, Estates and Succession Act that would allow people to witness wills remotely through the use of technology like Zoom or FaceTime instead of in person. These measures have been available since March, when temporary changes were put in place because COVID-19.The proposed legislative changes would also allow British Columbians to create and sign their will electronically. 'Technology is here to make things easier'Erin Bury, co-founder of Toronto-based Wilful, says allowing people to create and file important documents digitally is a big step toward streamlining the task of making a will.Bury says demand for Willful has increased by up to 600 per cent since the pandemic began. "I really believe that technology is here to make things easier for people, to make them more accessible and affordable," she said."For a long time it's been inaccessible, inconvenient and unaffordable to get your will done." But some critics point to potential problems that come with digitization. Risk of litigationJohn Mayr, executive director for the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia, says since the pandemic began notaries have noticed about a 50 per cent increase in demand for end-of-life legal documents like wills and power of attorney.Mayr says he welcomes the proposed legislation to increase digitization, although he worries that it could open the door to "all kinds of interesting litigation in the future." "As the regulator I would strongly advise people to talk to a lawyer or talk to a notary," he said. Mayr says some of his concerns include undue influence over an elderly parent or friend, fraud and questions around which version of a will or power of attorney is the most valid or recent.He suggests people consult with a lawyer or notary for advice on how to properly store or file important documents so they're protected and their validity isn't questioned. Seeking professional helpBut Willful's Bury says keeping lawyers out of the equation for wills can save people a lot of time and money. "There is no requirement that says a lawyer has to draft your will," she said. Bury notes that, just like filing taxes, there are some more complicated cases where professional help is warranted — including wills involving foreign investments, trusts or a disinherited family member. Services like Willful are adequate for most people, she says, most of the time.

  • PHOTOS: How Walt Disney World will change for the COVID-19 pandemic
    Yahoo News Canada

    PHOTOS: How Walt Disney World will change for the COVID-19 pandemic

    After being closed for almost four month due to COVID-19, Walt Disney World Resort in Florida will be welcoming guests again on Jul 11, beginning with Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park.“Our deliberate and phased approach at Walt Disney World Resort emphasizes multiple layers of health and safety measures,” Dr. Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, said in a statement. “We’re taking a multi-pronged approach to our reopening, after considering the guidance of various governmental authorities and health agencies, and recommendations from our team of health and safety experts.”Although the resort may be open, the experience for guests will look quite different to what a Walt Disney World trip was in the past. Some of the new rules that will be in place include:Limits on capacity in theme parks each dayTemperature screenings before entering a theme parkGround markings and physical barriers to promote physical distancingLimited capacity on transportation servicesAll guests, and cast members, over the age of two must wear a face covering at all times (excepting when eating and drinking)Cashless payment options are encouraged, including mobile ordering through the My Disney Experience app for diningWhile children, and adults, may love taking a photo with their favourite Disney character, traditional greeting and parades are still on hiatus. These beloved characters will still be around to wave at guests throughout the day, but they’ll be saying hello from a safe physical distance.EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will follow with reopening on Jul. 15. The Disney Skyliner also resume operation on that date, with one party per gondola.

  • Migrant worker advocate says those mistakenly billed for COVID-19 care creates additional deterrent

    Migrant worker advocate says those mistakenly billed for COVID-19 care creates additional deterrent

    A local migrant worker advocate says the mistaken billing of workers in Windsor-Essex who received medical attention for COVID-19 is just another deterrent for others to not access care. Justice for Migrant Workers organizer Chris Ramsaroop told CBC News that some undocumented migrant workers have been billed for healthcare services related to COVID-19 in Windsor-Essex.He said this should be a "tremendous concern" because if others find out, it could be another barrier to workers accessing care. Erie Shores Healthcare communications director Arms Bumanlag told CBC News that the hospital "had a few bills that were brought to our attention that were sent in error for COVID related issues. What we've done here at Erie Shores is immediately reverse those charges and apologize." Workers have been concerned with getting tested because they are worried of reprisals if they test positive, Ramsaroop said, adding that being mistakenly charged won't help when it comes to them getting tested or accessing care. As of Monday, 19 of about 175 farms in the Windsor-Essex area have completed onsite testing, according to Ontario Health, amounting to about 1,800 workers being tested.About 11 per cent of all workers who have been tested are positive for the disease. Bumanlag said the bills were likely sent out because the hospital is trying to limit the amount of clinical information that is accessible to non-clinical staff, which includes their billing clerks. During this process, the care a patient receives has been removed to protect patient confidentiality.He said they have now created a process where they will put a note on all COVID related care invoices. The messages say the billing office needs to be immediately notified to cancel any charges. "We are actively encouraging anyone who has received this bill to let us know that you have and we are going to correct it," Bumanlag said, adding that he realizes they have a very different demographic in the county and because of that they need to "work harder" to engage with the migrant worker community. "We've tried very hard to break down barriers to accessing care in our community...potential financial issues [shouldn't] stop someone from receiving care." In a March press release, the provincial government stated that testing and treatment for COVID-19 should be free of charge in Ontario. The province has said it would cover the cost of COVID-19 services for people who are uninsured and don't meet the criteria for OHIP coverage. By doing so, the province said it hopes no one will be discouraged from getting tested or treated for the disease due to financial concerns.

  • Civil servants to get up to $2,500 each for Phoenix 'pain and suffering'
    The Canadian Press

    Civil servants to get up to $2,500 each for Phoenix 'pain and suffering'

    OTTAWA — Federal employees stand to collect up to $2,500 each in cash payments for "pain and suffering" resulting from the government's failed Phoenix pay system under an agreement reached with the country's biggest civil-service union.The settlement comes as government workers scramble to get emergency benefits out to individual Canadians and businesses affected by the economic crisis that has flowed from the COVID-19 pandemic.The lump-sum payments are contained in a side deal reached late Thursday alongside a tentative contract settlement for about 70,000 civil servants that includes average annual wage increases of 2.11 per cent over a three-year term.The Public Service Alliance of Canada said the payments are compensation for the problems caused to federal workers by the broken Phoenix pay system, which created underpayments, overpayments or in some cases no pay cheques for tens of thousands of government employees."After four years of stress, uncertainty, and financial hardships because their employer couldn't pay them correctly or on time, our members will finally be compensated for the Phoenix pay disaster," PSAC national president Chris Aylward said in a statement.The compensation agreement affects about 140,000 PSAC members but could also affect members of other unions that last year agreed to compensation of five days of cashable leave.PSAC, Canada's biggest civil service union, had rejected that settlement, calling the five extra vacation days "meagre."The other unions may benefit from the PSAC deal, however, because their agreements included clauses that would provide their members with compensation equal to whatever PSAC was able to negotiate.The PSAC agreement, which does not require ratification by its members, would see general damages paid to federal public service employees working for a range of government departments between 2016 and 2020.It also includes compensation for the late implementation of collective agreements during those years caused by the Phoenix pay system.Compensation totals $1,000 for employees working in the fiscal year 2016-17 and $500 in each of the following three years.Beyond the lump sum, government employees who suffered severe losses due to the Phoenix pay system, such as losing their homes, cars or investments, or who had their credit ratings harmed, can claim damages.When conceived in 2009, the Phoenix system was supposed to streamline the public service payroll and save taxpayers more than $70 million annually.But after its launch in 2016, more than half of civil servants experienced pay problems, forcing the government to hire extra staff and set up satellite pay centres across the country in an effort to chip away at problem cases.As of June 24, the backlog of problem files had been reduced to 125,000 financial transactions beyond normal workload, according to the public service pay centre dashboard, which tracks pay issues.The most recent estimated cost of stabilizing Phoenix was pegged at more than $1 billion, not including the amount it will take to create, test and launch a new pay system that works.Separately, PSAC and the Treasury Board Secretariat, which is responsible for negotiating contracts with federal employees, said they had reached a tentative settlement late Thursday for about half of PSAC's members.The three-year deal for program and administrative services group employees includes wage increases of 2.8 per cent in the first year, followed by 2.2 per cent in the second and 1.35 per cent in the final year.The tentative agreement applies to close to 84,000 federal employees, including non-unionized workers, according to Treasury Board.It also contains new provisions for caregiver leave, extended parental leave, and up to 10 days of domestic violence leave.Details on when a ratification vote will be held are expected next week.This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2020.Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press

  • Alberta carbon capture project hits another milestone ahead of schedule and below cost

    Alberta carbon capture project hits another milestone ahead of schedule and below cost

    The Quest carbon capture and storage project in central Alberta has surpassed the milestone of sequestering five million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from oilsands operations.The achievement was also ahead of schedule and below forecasted costs.Shell Canada developed the project, which became operational in November 2015. The facility was expected to sequester about one million tonnes of emissions annually.The project is located at the Scotford complex, northeast of Edmonton, which also includes a refinery and petrochemical facility."Quest CCS is allowing us to produce lower carbon intensive products at our Scotford upgrader, and we really see that as a pathway to decarbonizing our industry and in support of the energy transition going forward," said Sarah Kassam, a development and opportunity planner for the Quest project, in an interview. "We've seen a lot of successes with Quest. We're excited to see where it goes," she said.The facility takes emissions from a nearby bitumen upgrader and stores them two kilometres underground. The reservoir far below the surface is "taking the CO2 a lot easier and better than we had initially forecast it would," said Kassam.The $1.3-billion project was paid for primarily by governments. Alberta gave $745 million and Ottawa paid $120 million. "If we were to replicate or do a very similar project to Quest, we would expect to see savings in and around the 30 per cent mark, just because of efficiencies that we've been able to recreate, and then a different kind of economic environment that we're currently in, in comparison to when Quest was being built," said Kassam.Shell had anticipated operating costs of about $40 per tonne of stored CO2, but the facility's efficiency is now about $25 per tonne.If the cost of constructing the facility is included, the cost is about $80 per tonne, compared with initial forecasts of about $120 per tonne.While some carbon capture projects have faced challenges with costs and reliability, Quest has proven reliable, said officials, with less than one per cent of downtime every year."For the most part, it has been relatively smooth. We've definitely seen some small things," said Kassam. "But we had a really well designed project, so we haven't necessarily encountered some of the larger challenges, I would say, that some other projects have."Since the project was developed, the ownership structure has changed, with Canadian Natural Resources having a 70 per cent stake, Chevron Canada owning 20 per cent and Shell retaining a 10 per cent share of the facility."This is an important made-in-Canada success story," said Tim McKay, president of Canadian Natural Resources, in a statement. "The achievement reflects the collaborative partnership of industry and government along with the commitment of dedicated teams working together to continuously improve operational and environmental performance."Shell will be using lessons from the project as it proceeds with a new carbon capture project in Norway, with Total and Equinor, after the companies made a final investment decision on the proposed Northern Lights facility in May.

  • News

    Drowning in B.C. lake investigated by RCMP, coroner

    RCMP and the BC Coroners Service are investigating the drowning death of a man in West Kelowna on Thursday. Police say first responders rushed to the 2000 block of Boucherie Road near Okanagan Lake just before 1:45 p.m. for a report of a drowning. They learned that a 65-year-old man had been swimming in the lake, but failed to re-surface. Nearby witnesses found the man and pulled him from the water, and immediately began performing CPR.Emergency services arrived and continued the life-saving efforts, but the man could not be resuscitated. "Despite the best efforts of everyone involved and the heroic efforts of witnesses, the man passed away," said Kelowna RCMP Const. Solana Paré. "RCMP victim services are providing support to the witnesses, friends and family of the victim. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and family of the victim during this difficult time."Both the RCMP and the BC Coroners Service are not releasing or confirming the identity of the man at this time due to privacy concerns.

  • Entertainment
    The Canadian Press

    Country stars talk of Charlie Daniels' faith at funeral

    Daniels, who died Monday at the age of 83, was given a star-studded salute by artists Travis Tritt, Trace Adkins, Vince Gill and Gretchen Wilson during a funeral service in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Hundreds were on hand for the service and his casket was surrounded by flags, red and white flowers, his fiddle, a Gibson Les Paul electric guitar and a belt buckle with a cross, The Tennessean reported.

  • Health

    B.C. officials warn of possible COVID-19 exposure at events in Kelowna

    B.C. health officials issued a sweeping warning on Friday about possible exposure to COVID-19 in Kelowna, covering anyone who attended public and private gatherings in the downtown and waterfront areas over 12 days this summer.Interior Health says eight people who have tested positive for the coronavirus attended private gatherings in the area and visited local bars and restaurants between June 25 and July 6.Events that took place on Canada Day and over the holiday weekend are of particular concern, according to a news release."We believe that these individuals acquired the disease elsewhere," Interior Health's Dr. Silvina Mema told CBC News.Six of the people who tested positive live outside of the region — mainly in B.C.'s Lower Mainland and Alberta, according to Mema."These are individuals who came here to spend time with friends, so there are a number of different restaurants and pubs, the waterfront area that they have been at," she said.Contact tracing is underway, and anyone who may have been exposed will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days.Anyone else who participated in events in the downtown area during the dates in question should monitor themselves for symptoms. Testing is available to anyone who has symptoms of the disease, but it is not recommended for anyone who doesn't have symptoms because of a risk of false negatives.Mema said this large-scale potential exposure should serve as a reminder that everyone still needs to be very careful about preventing transmission, even though B.C. is in its third phase of reopening."I think it's fair to assume that there could be a positive case anywhere, and the message that I would like to convey … is that we don't have to let our guard down. The virus is everywhere," she said."We have to assume that everybody who isn't in our bubble could have COVID-19 or could be incubating COVID-19."

  • Coronavirus: How the use of wet wipes is blocking sewers and leading to challenges at treatment plants
    Global News

    Coronavirus: How the use of wet wipes is blocking sewers and leading to challenges at treatment plants

    The use of disposable wipes has seen an increase during the COVID-19 pandemic and that increase has added to the issues for treatment plants who are having to deal with more sewer clogs and other problems. Crystal Goomansingh tours one of London's biggest treatment facilities to see some of the challenges they're facing.