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Mosquito species responsible for most Zika cases caught in Ontario

BRENNAN DOHERTY, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Aug 24th, 2017

In this Sept. 29, 2016 file photo, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, responsible for transmitting Zika, sit in a petri dish at the Fiocruz Institute in Recife, Brazil. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Felipe Dana
An adult mosquito belonging to the species of the insect responsible for the majority of Zika cases has been caught in Canada for the first time by a southern Ontario health unit, but the insect captured isn’t carrying the virus.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit said one of their mosquito traps recently caught an adult Aedes aegypti mosquito. It noted that the specie’s larvae was also found in the region last year.

Despite the development, the health unit said there’s no reason to worry about an increased risk of Zika virus in the region.

Aedes aegypti mosquitos are capable of carrying the Zika virus as well as a number of other tropical diseases, including dengue fever, chikungunya, and yellow fever.

They are typically found in tropical environments, including the southern United States, but have been known to travel as far north as Michigan.

Public Health Canada says there are currently no reported cases of Zika virus being transmitted by mosquitos in Canada.

Dr. Wajid Ahmed, acting medical officer of health at the health unit, said it isn’t clear exactly how the adult mosquito that was captured made it to the Windsor area. But he said that Aedes aegypti mosquitos have hitched rides into colder climates in shipping containers in the past.

“When you look at the spread of this particular species of mosquitos, that’s how they’re spread in other parts of the world as well,” he said.

Windsor, Ahmed pointed out, is a hub for shipping between Canada and the United States. He added that Windsor also saw the first cases of West Nile virus in Canada.

Windsor’s warm summers, as well as a very mild winter last year, may also be a factor, he said.

“This warmer temperature is definitely one of the reasons that these particular types of mosquitos are finding it much more favourable to grow and survive,” Ahmed said.

Ahmed said that the Windsor-Essex County health unit is consulting with provincial and federal health authorities on how to deal with Aedes-type adults and larvae.

The health unit said local residents should use bug repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts when outside, and ensure that their doors and windows don’t have holes.

Unlike many mosquitos, the Aedes aegypti mosquito bites during the day. The mosquito also doesn’t breed in ponds, puddles or marshes. Instead, the health unit said, it prefers to lay eggs in objects that contain still water, like buckets or vases.

Another mosquito species that’s closely related to Aedes aegypti — called the Aedes albopictus — is also present in the Windsor region, and is also capable of carrying the Zika virus. Last year, the health unit said it captured 17 adults of the species, and Ahmed said more adults were captured this year.

Curtis Russell, a program consultant with Public Health Ontario specializing in mosquito-borne diseases, said the Aedes aegypti mosquito population in Canada is too small for a serious outbreak of Zika.

“It’s very unlikely for this to occur in Windsor or Canada,” he said, noting that Canadians are more at risk of getting Zika if they travel to southern locations where it is more common.

Regions affected by the Zika virus include the Caribbean and South America, as well as parts of west and south Africa and the southern United States.

Most people who contract the infection have no symptoms; those that do get sick experience such ill effects as fever, joint pain, rash and red eyes. The disease usually resolves in about a week.

However, the virus has been potentially linked in Brazil to cases of abnormally small heads in infants born to women who may have been infected while pregnant, as well as cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neurological condition that can cause muscle weakness or even partial paralysis. Researchers are still scrambling to determine if Zika causes both the birth defect — known as microcephaly — and Guillain-Barre.

Alleged Canadian Yahoo hacker pleads not guilty in U.S. court, lawyer says

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Aug 24th, 2017

Karim Baratov is shown in a photo from his Instagram account. A lawyer of a Canadian man accused in a massive hack of Yahoo emails says his client has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him in a San Francisco courtroom on Wednesday. Karim Baratov was arrested in Hamilton, Ont., in March under the Extradition Act after U.S. authorities indicted him and three others for computer hacking, economic espionage and other crimes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Instagram MANDATORY CREDIT
A lawyer of a Canadian man accused in a massive hack of Yahoo emails says his client has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him in a San Francisco courtroom on Wednesday.

Karim Baratov was arrested in Hamilton, Ont., in March under the Extradition Act after U.S. authorities indicted him and three others for computer hacking, economic espionage and other crimes.

Baratov’s U.S.-based lawyer, Andrew Mancilla, says his next court appearance will be Tuesday.

Last week, the 22-year-old decided to forgo his extradition hearing and face the charges in the United States in what his Canadian lawyer has called an effort to speed up the legal process.

The Hamilton man signed documents agreeing to waive the hearing before an Ontario judge on Friday, after weighing the decision for months.

Baratov has been held without bail since his arrest because an Ontario Superior Court judge ruled that he was too much of a flight risk to be released prior to an extradition hearing.

The judge also found that Baratov’s parents would not make appropriate sureties since they had not been suspicious of their son’s alleged activities while he lived under their roof.

American authorities alleged in court documents that Baratov, who was born in Kazakhstan, posed an “extremely high flight risk” in part due to his alleged ties to Russian intelligence agents and his financial resources.

He appealed the ruling that denied him bail but it was upheld in June.

Yahoo said last September that information from at least 500 million user accounts had been stolen in a cyberattack two years earlier. Baratov is accused of hacking 80 Yahoo accounts and faces 20 years in prison in the U.S. if convicted.

Striking Pearson ground crew vote against new offer

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Aug 24th, 2017

Striking workers are seen picketing at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Friday, July, 28, 2017. About 700 ground crew workers at Canada's busiest airport are voting today on whether to accept a new contract offer and potentially end a four-week-long work stoppage.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov
Striking workers are seen picketing at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on July, 28, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov
Striking ground crew workers at Canada’s busiest airport have voted overwhelmingly to reject the latest offer from their employer and will continue a four-week-long work stoppage.

A spokesman for Teamsters Union Local 419 says the workers employed by Swissport vote 98 per cent to reject a new contract after turning down an offer by a wide margin in late July.

“The first offer was rejected by 95 per cent so this is actually a stronger rejection,” said union spokesman Christopher Monette.

“Swissport’s second offer to our members was almost identical to the first one. All they did was change a few details.”

About 700 cabin cleaners, baggage handlers, and other ground crew workers employed by Swissport at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport have been on strike since late July.

Swissport services 30 airlines at the airport, including Air Transat, Sunwing Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Air France, KLM and Lufthansa. Air Canada and WestJet are not serviced by Swissport.

The ground crew strike has not significantly affected passengers, although the airport has been warning travellers that the labour disruption could affect some flights.

Terms of the latest offer were not released but the company had said it was optimistic the workers would accept the deal.

Their concerns have included pay and benefits cuts, scheduling issues, and what their union calls a lack of respect from Swissport managers.

“We’re dealing with a company that is proposing and doing the same thing over and over expecting different results and that’s a slap in the face really to our workers,” said Monette.

“This lack of respect was evident in the company’s first and second offers. They wanted to impose a three-year wage freeze on workers at the top of the wage scale. The problem is that’s actually the majority of workers at Swissport.”

Related stories:

Swissport says it’s coping with workers strike at Pearson, union disagrees

Pearson ground crew claims strike has caused significant baggage delays

Baggage system glitch resolved, operations ‘running well’ at Pearson

Technical glitch with baggage scales at Pearson causes backlogs

Hwy. 404 reopens after multi-vehicle crash in Aurora

NEWS STAFF | posted Thursday, Aug 24th, 2017

Highway 404 has reopened in Aurora after a crash on Aug. 24, 2017. CITYNEWS
Two people are in hospital after a multi-vehicle crash on Highway 404 in Aurora.

The crash happened just south of Aurora Road, before midnight on Wednesday.

The highway has since reopened.

It’s not yet known how seriously the people were hurt, or how many vehicles were involved.

Highway 404 has reopened in Aurora after a crash on Aug. 24, 2017. CITYNEWS

Weapons still found in Ontario jails despite millions spent on body scanners

CRISTINA HOWORUN | posted Wednesday, Aug 23rd, 2017


Despite spending millions on high-tech body scanners, weapons are still being found in Ontario jails.

On Monday, a correctional officer working at the Central East Correctional Centre (CECC) was sent to hospital after he was slashed three times, allegedly by an inmate with a ceramic knife.

“We’re lucky he’s able to recover at home,” OPSEU Local 368 president Chris Butsch explained.

“A few inches either way and it could’ve been a major artery.”

Butsch said the correctional officer received 24 stitches.

To see graphic images of the injuries click here and here.

This isn’t the first time a correctional officer has been injured with these types of blades since a body scanner was installed at the Lindsay-area jail last October.

“Another (correctional officer) was stabbed back in the winter with a similar knife,” Butsch said.

And it isn’t just a problem at one jail.

“We are finding ceramic blades almost daily, and a lot of other things too,” said Ryan Graham, acting president at Maplehurst Correctional Complex’s OPSEU Local 234.

About a dozen provincial institutions have body scanners on site.

The SecurPASS whole body X-ray security imaging system is supposed to detect ceramic knives, which are gaining in popularity in Ontario jails, as well as drugs and pills.

The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services announced the installation to big fanfare in May 2016. It cost about $10 million to have the machines installed at all 26 provincial institutions.

“It was such a newsworthy item, but when it came to implementing them, it’s been like pulling teeth,” Graham explained.

A CityNews investigation in January revealed a litany of problems with the installed machines — primarily that staff hadn’t been trained to use them and that months after their delivery, they were sitting unplugged, gathering dust.

Since then, training has been implemented and the machines are being used — but they aren’t catching the contraband that made its way into the jails years ago.

“I pushed for institutional search from day one,” explains OPSEU’s Chad Oldfield.

“And from day one we were told, it’s not going to happen because of cost and the impact on operations and the impact on inmates.”

Jails that have the scanners only search incoming inmates — not those that are already in the institution.

“The scanners have been great,” Oldfield said. “But there’s that whole aspect of the contraband that was in the institution since prior to the scanner, and the employer has turned a blind eye to it.”

Several sources confirmed that institution-wide searches of cells and inmate living areas has not happened at any jail where scanners are installed.

“Adult institutional policy and procedures says once a month the entire jail must be searched, but that never ever happens,” a correctional officer from Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre told CityNews.

“Managers that say otherwise are just fudging the reports.”

A letter written in December 2016 from former Correctional Services Minister David Orazietti to union leadership read, “The ministry is moving forward with a pilot project at the Maplehurst Correctional Complex to conduct a full institution search, including a full body scan of all existing inmates.”

That was supposed to start in early 2017 and be followed at all other jails. It didn’t happen.

“The local administrators at Maplehurst pushed back and said, ‘There’s no way.’ They said it cost too much money and would take too much time,” explained Oldfield.

“We created a joint committee with management and came up with a blueprint that would make the search more efficient and then we got the run-around. It was in legal, then it was on the superintendent’s desk, then it was back in legal. The administration just had no appetite for it.”

Oldfield said there have been several inmate-on-inmate assaults using these types of weapons since the scanner’s installation.

“The biggest problem was that there was a change in minister,” Oldfied said.

After months of inaction by the ministry, Monte Visselmeyer, chair of OPSEU’s corrections caucus, said the union put forth another option.

“We suggested we look at Toronto East (Detention Centre) for a search pilot project. It has a smaller inmate population,” he said. “But we are still waiting for upper corporate levels to agree.”

“In order to establish a baseline standard of safety for correctional staff and inmates across the province, all institutions that are scheduled to implement scanners or are currently using body scanners must conduct an institution-wide search using the body scanner,” Oldfield said.

“We need to actually see what’s already in the heart of the jail, not just what the new admissions are bringing in.”

CityNews is still waiting for comment from the ministry, as well as Correctional Services Minister Marie-France Lalonde, with regards to institution-wide searches.

In a brief statement, ministry spokesman Andrew Morrison confirmed Monday’s attack on the correctional officer.

“Approximately 10 inmates in a unit at the Central East Correctional Centre caused a disturbance yesterday,” Morrison wrote. “During efforts by correctional staff to secure the inmates in the unit, one staff member was injured. The officer was sent to hospital, treated for injuries and released.”

On Tuesday, staff at CECC were told that an intuition-wide search will take place.

“It’s sad that it took a (correctional officer) getting slashed for us to get it,” explained Butsch.

Letter From Minister by CityNewsToronto on Scribd



More women with young children depending on women’s shelters, putting strain on resources

AMANDA FERGUSON | posted Wednesday, Aug 23rd, 2017


Women’s shelters across the city say more women are seeking refuge with young children in tow, putting a strain on resources.

Nellie’s, a shelter in Toronto’s east end, says 14 of their 36 beds are currently occupied by children, and the majority of those are toddlers.

Ingrid Graham, the shelter’s manager of development, says diapers are so in demand, the cost is coming out of their already-stretched food budget.

“The more babies, the more money we’re putting towards buying diapers, baby formula and baby wipes,” Graham said. “All the help we can get can help us stretch our budget a little further.”

Click here for more information on donating to Nellie’s Shelter.

Interval House, Canada’s oldest shelter for women escaping abusive situations, is also noticing a similar trend. Nineteen of their 36 beds are currently being occupied by children.

“Within the last few years, women with younger children are coming to Interval House,” says Paul Del Cid, Interval’s residential program manager. “We actually had a child born here last week. We find more woman are getting ready to leave an abusive relationship, so that’s why there are younger kids here.”

Click here for more information on donating to Interval House.

The province told CityNews it’s committed to investing in Violence Against Women (VAW) agencies.

“In 2016-17, the Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS) invested $148 million in Violence Against Women services, which is a 54 per cent increase since 2003, at this time, approximately 10,900 women and 6,700 children were served at VAW shelters,” a government spokesperson said in an email.

“In 2015-2016, we invested $147M in VAW services, and at this time, approximately 10,770 women and 6,920 children were served at VAW shelters.

“The ministry funds more than 2,000 beds dedicated for use by women and their children.”

“No woman who is in crisis and needs shelter is turned away – a bed will be found for her and her children.”

Ontario tweaks labour reform bill, but no changes to minimum wage hike

ALLISON JONES, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Aug 23rd, 2017

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne takes part in the closing press conference of the Meeting of First Ministers and National Indigenous Leaders in Ottawa on Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
A major Ontario labour reform bill is being tweaked but so far is seeing no significant changes to key parts, including a controversial phase-in of a $15 minimum wage, leaving concerned businesses looking to a relief package promised by the premier.

The Liberal government’s legislation includes equal pay for part-time workers, increased vacation entitlements and expanded personal emergency leave, but the centrepiece is an increase in the minimum wage. It is currently set to rise from $11.60 in October to $14 in January, and $15 in 2019.

Businesses have said a 32 per cent increase in less than 18 months will be tough to absorb, and have called for a slower rise.

But the government made no changes to that timeline in the first round of amendments at a Liberal-dominated committee this week, and also voted down almost every change proposed by the NDP, such as giving all workers five paid sick days and eliminating minimum wage exemptions for servers.

There will be another chance to make changes to the bill, after second reading expected next month, and business groups say they’ll continue to press for amendments.

They’re also eager, however, for the government to unveil a package of offsets to help businesses cope with increased costs the labour bill will bring. Premier Kathleen Wynne has promised it will come in the fall.

“We know that there are small businesses, particularly some mom and pop businesses in our communities, that are going to have a challenge going through that transition,” she said earlier this month.

Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid has said a break for small businesses will come “likely on the tax side.”

That’s in addition to already planned burden reductions such as cutting administrative costs, streamlining compliance for small businesses, and increasing small businesses’ share of government procurement, Duguid said.

Jeff Leal, the minister responsible for small business, has said Ontario is eyeing the example of Manitoba, which has a zero tax rate for small businesses on the first $450,000 of active income.

Wynne has also mentioned that restaurant owners in particular have cited fees they pay to the Liquor Control Board of Ontario as an issue, and that businesses have said “training dollars are a challenge to find.”

While much of the government’s talk about the offset package has focused on small businesses, large ones have said the minimum wage increase will hurt them as well.

Metro Inc. estimates the wage increase will cost about $45 million to $50 million next year and is accelerating its study of automation. Loblaw Companies Ltd. (TSX:L) has estimated a $190-million hit next year from higher minimum wages in Ontario and Alberta. Magna International has warned that higher costs could affect its business investments in the province.

Offsets should be across the board, said Karl Baldauf of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

“Small businesses have tighter margins than large businesses, but that being said, large businesses will accommodate this type of hit in a way that will be detrimental to jobs, in a way that will be detrimental to economic growth in this province, and I can’t understand how any provincial government would want to enable that to take place,” he said.

Offsets also need to come sooner rather than later, as businesses are planning now for 2018 and if a package comes in November, that is too late, Baldauf said.

“Businesses will have started to increase costs, they will have started to let people go, they will have stopped hiring people that they might have hired because they’re planning now under the presumption there is no offset.”

The Keep Ontario Working Coalition, which includes the chamber, last week released an economic analysis that it commissioned showing the labour reforms would put 185,000 jobs at risk. Baldauf said the government needs to address the problem through a combination of offsets, delays and amendments to the labour bill.

The minimum wage hike does, however, have support as well. During the first round of committee hearings, many labour and other left-leaning groups cheered the increase, saying it addresses income disparity and stimulates the economy. A group of economists also wrote a letter last month in support of a $15 minimum wage.

The changes the government did make to the bill this week include providing an unpaid sexual assault/domestic violence leave of up to 17 weeks, where in the original bill it was lumped in with 10 days of personal emergency leave.

A few amendments were made to scheduling provisions, as well. If a shift is cancelled within 48 hours of its start, employers must pay three hours’ wages, but a new amendment was added to exempt weather-dependent work.

If an employee gets less than 96 hours’ notice of a shift, they can refuse it, but an exemption was created for work that is needed to deal with an emergency or to remedy or mitigate a risk to public safety.

Related stories:

Metro CEO: grocery industry will be pressured by Ontario minimum wage hike

Business groups raise concerns about Ontario’s planned labour reforms

Wynne promises unspecified relief for businesses amid planned minimum wage hikes

Trudeau’s panda cuddle is now a butter sculpture

NEWS STAFF | posted Wednesday, Aug 23rd, 2017

A butter sculpture of Justin Trudeau and the panda cubs by David Salazar, Aug. 22, 2017. CNE/Handout
It was an adorable moment from 2016 — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau snuggling with the Toronto Zoo panda cubs.

And now you can see it again … in butter form.

It’s all a part of the CNE’s annual butter sculpture exhibit.

David Salazar, this year’s lead sculpture, said several other iconic Toronto moments have been carved out for all to see.

“The theme that we have this year is infamous Toronto animals that have gone viral in the news media – such as Trudeau with the panda bears, the Ikea monkey, the high park Capybaras…,” he explained.

Justin Trudeau and Darwin the Ikea Monkey are just two of the CNE's butter sculptures, Aug. 22, 2017. CNE/Handout

Because of its size, the creation of the Trudeau statue will continue throughout the duration of the CNE. Salazar said that by the time it’s all finished, 2,700 pounds of butter will have been used.

Justin Trudeau and the Toronto Zoo panda cubs sculpted in butter, Aug. 22, 2017. CNE/Handout

The butter sculptures are an annual tradition at The Ex and are always a big hit with guests but this year’s Trudeau statue has drawn international attention to the event.

The story has been picked up by Time Magazine, Cosmo and The Mirror in the U.K.

In previous years, other prominent Canadians have been honoured with a butter likeness including astronaut Chris Hadfield, Mayor Rob Ford and the infamous #DeadRaccoonTO.

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