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Kids across Canada more at risk of hospitalization from flu this season: doctor

CAMILLE BAINS, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jan 17th, 2020

Canada’s chief public health officer says more children are being hospitalized this flu season because of an early spike in a strain of influenza B, which hits young people hard and is circulating across the country while a strain that typically targets the elderly also makes the rounds.

Dr. Theresa Tam said influenza B does not usually peak until February or later and the “double dose” of both influenza A and B strains has not been seen in Canada since 2015.

“Right now we have influenza A-H3N2, which is still predominant, but influenza A, another strain, H1N1, is escalating and influenza B is early so all of this is going on at the same time, which is certainly having an impact on different communities and individuals.”

Seniors are typically sickened by H3N2, Tam said, adding she does not yet know which strains were believed to have been linked to the deaths of two young people in Manitoba.

Blaine Ruppenthal, 17, is suspected of having died of complications from the flu, according to a letter sent to parents Monday by the principal of Kelvin High School in Winnipeg.

A spokeswoman for the provincial government cited privacy laws in declining comment on whether Ruppenthal had any pre-existing medical conditions.

Tam said the death of a 24-year-old patient in Manitoba is also believed to have occurred from similar issues.

Lab tests will be done to determine if the two cases were linked to the virus, the provincial government said in a statement.

Two other people, both over 80, have died in Manitoba from flu-related illness this season, the statement says.

“The flu is impacting younger people more this season than in previous years. Almost 200 influenza B cases are reported to date and almost all were below the age of 50. The influenza A cases reported to date are very low for this time of a season with more than half below the age of 50.”

Manitoba is urging all residents to get the flu shot, which it offers for free.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said two deaths believed to be related to flu were also reported in New Brunswick this year.

The latest report from FluWatch, the agency’s surveillance program of influenza cases, says 258 children in Canada, aged 16 and under, were hospitalized over a three-week period ending Jan. 4.

“The weekly number of cases in this period is above the average over the previous five seasons,” it says.

Alison Merton, director of Collingwood Neighbourhood House, which operates over two dozen child-care programs in Vancouver for infants to school-aged kids, said more children have been sick with the flu than in the past few seasons.

The program can’t require parents to get any immunizations for their children but she said not having the flu vaccine can impact families.

“We have siblings in different programs so typically if one family goes down it does affect multiple programs,” Merton said.

Flumist, a nasal spray version of the flu vaccine, is often given to children but a global shortage means it has not been available in Canada, Tam said, adding the vaccine is an alternative for anyone over the age of six months and pregnant women who get it also protect their babies.

She said that while the vaccine is the best defence against flu, only about 43 per cent of Canadians under age 65 were immunized last year, even if they were at risk of complications, compared with 70 per cent of seniors.

“What I’m more concerned about is that people with some chronic medication conditions, such as underlying heart disease or diabetes, are not getting vaccinated.”

Isobel Mackenzie, the advocate for seniors in British Columbia, said over 80 per cent of seniors in long-term care facilities, where the flu shot is offered, get immunized and 74 per cent of staff do, too.

“Where we need to do the work is in the public,” she said, adding people who visit the elderly in care homes are putting them at risk if they aren’t vaccinated.

“To protect grandma from getting the flu it’s actually more effective for you to get your flu shot,” she said.

Unlike most other provinces, B.C. does not provide the flu shot for free, except to people 65 and over, under 19 or if they fit into a broad category, such as if they tend to be around vulnerable people including children and the elderly.

“So why don’t we just say everybody can get it for free?” Mackenzie said. “Everybody who wants it is figuring out how to get it for free anyhow.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2020.

Camille Bains, The Canadian Press

FBI arrest former Canadian reservist, suspected neo-Nazi

LEE BERTHIAUME, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jan 17th, 2020

A former Canadian Forces engineer who disappeared after he was accused of being a neo-Nazi has been arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on firearms charges and appeared in a United States courtroom on Thursday.

The arrest and court appearance were the first public signs of Patrik Mathews since he disappeared at the end of August amid allegations of having been a recruiter for the right-wing hate group called The Base.

Dressed in a brown T-shirt and camouflage cargo pants and sporting a heavy beard, Mathews was asked by Judge Charles Day in a U.S. District Court in a Maryland suburb of Washington if he understood the charges against him.

Those charges include one count of transporting a firearm and ammunition with intent to commit a felony and one charge of being an alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition. Each charge carries a maximum of 10 years in prison, three years of probation and a $250,000 fine.

“Understood,” Mathews replied simply. He offered the same reply when informed of his rights by the judge.

Mathews was arrested along with two other men: Brian Mark Lemley, 33, and 19-year-old William Garfield Bilbrough IV. Both are U.S. citizens and also appeared in court.

Bail hearings have been set for Wednesday, when prosecutors are expected to ask that Mathews remain behind bars.

Mystery had surrounded Mathews’s whereabouts since he disappeared in August amid allegations of being a neo-Nazi.

At the time, Mathews was a combat engineer with the 38 Canadian Brigade Group in Winnipeg, though the military said then it was investigating his alleged links to The Base and fast-tracking his request to be released from the Canadian Armed Forces.

The RCMP were also reportedly conducting their own investigation, though the Mounties have not confirmed the report. They had previously seized a number of weapons from a house in Beausejour, Man., about 60 kilometres east of Winnipeg, where Mathews lived.

Shortly after he disappeared, Mathews’s truck was found abandoned on a rural property in southern Manitoba near the U.S. border. The RCMP said it was treating his disappearance as a missing-person case.

In a statement Thursday, the RCMP said it was aware of Mathews’s arrest but would not comment on an investigation in another country.

The charges against Mathews were laid out in a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland on Thursday, which alleges Mathews crossed illegally from Manitoba to Minnesota on Aug. 19.

Mathews is alleged to have made his way to Michigan. Prosecutors say on Aug. 30, Lemley and Bilbrough, who are also described as members of The Base, picked him up and took him to Maryland. Lemley previously served in the U.S. Army.

On Nov. 3, according to the allegations, the three men drove from Virginia to Maryland, where Bilbrough lived. Lemley and Mathews eventually continued to Delaware, “where Lemley rented an apartment in which the two have resided since that time.”

Lemley and Mathews are then alleged to have assembled “a functioning assault rifle” from parts in December, and all three are accused of having made a psychedelic drug known as DMT.

“Furthermore, Lemley, Mathews and Bilbrough discussed The Base’s activities and spoke about other members of the organization,” according to the prosecutors. “Mathews also allegedly showed the assault rifle to Bilbrough, who examined the assault rife and returned it to Mathews.”

The U.S. Attorney goes on to allege that Lemley and Mathews bought 1,650 rounds of ammunition earlier this month and then “travelled from Delaware to a gun range in Maryland, where they shot the assault rifle” and retrieved a bulletproof vest.

Both Lemley and Bilbrough face charges for transporting and harbouring Mathews, while Lemley is charged with transporting a machine gun in interstate commerce and for providing a firearm and ammunition to Mathews and transporting a firearm with the intent to commit a felony.

The statement alleges that “within The Base’s encrypted chat rooms, members have discussed, among other things, recruitment, creating a white ethno-state, committing acts of violence against minority communities (including African-Americans and Jewish-Americans), the organization’s military-style training camps, and ways to make improvised explosive devices.”

In court Thursday, assistant U.S. attorney Tom Windom, the lead prosecutor, showed grainy, stylized photos that he said showed Bilbrough and other Base members lined up, firing-squad style, aiming firearms down range.

Windom said Bilbrough discussed a desire to fight with nationalists un Ukraine and had compared the group to al-Qaida – whose name means “The Base” in Arabic.

The prosecutor also said Bilbrough and Mathews smashed their mobile phones and dumped the pieces in a toilet when federal agents showed up.

After the hearing, lawyer Robert Bonsib, representing Bilbrough, rejected Windom’s argument that his client poses a flight risk.

“I didn’t hear him say my client had a passport, I didn’t hear him say that he’s ever travelled internationally – all he’s ever done is travel to a couple of states in the United States,” Bonsib said. “I think this 19-year-old young man should be released.”

The New York Times reported the three men had talked about travelling to a pro-gun rally next week in nearby Virginia. The rally coincides with Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the U.S., which commemorates the assassinated civil-rights activist.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said in a tweet Wednesday there was credible intelligence from law-enforcement agencies of threats of violence surrounding the pro-gun demonstration planned for Monday.

In Canada, the accusations against Mathews in August and his disappearance put a spotlight on concerns that right-wing extremists have been trying to infiltrate the Canadian Armed Forces.

Several sailors associated with the far-right Proud Boys group disrupted a Mi’kmaq ceremony in Halifax in 2017. A military-intelligence report in 2018 said 30 active service members belonged to hate groups or had made racist statements.

The report also revealed some extremist groups have encouraged their members to seek military training and recruit service members.

Court backlog delays family’s civil suit against Brampton hospital over son’s suicide

MEREDITH BOND | posted Friday, Jan 17th, 2020

Almost seven years after their son died by suicide while in a psychiatric ward at Brampton Civic Hospital, the Tiwari family has been told they will have to wait at least another year before taking the hospital to court.

Prashant Tiwari died on June 26, 2014. He was 20 years old. Tiwari had been placed on suicide watch and was supposed to be under close staff supervision, monitored every 15 minutes.

The Tiwari family announced they were suing Brampton Civic and 18 staff members for wrongful death and breach of privacy in 2015.

Rakesh, Prashant’s father, said when he wasn’t getting answers from the medical system about how this could have happened, he turned to the justice system. He knew it would be a long and difficult process, but he didn’t expect this.

“I never cared about money or anything. For me, for both of my sons…I lived my life here. Where do I go from here? Whenever I look at his picture… where do I go from here? For me, I’m totally devastated,” said Rakesh

Their statement of claim alleges staff was negligent by attending a potluck rather than supervising Tiwari and he had been left alone for nearly three hours.

The trial was expected to start this month, but they were recently informed it had been delayed until May 2021 due to a courtroom backlog in Ontario.

A lawyer for the Tiwari family, Michael Smitiuch, called it a “slow crawl to justice.”

“This family deserves answers and accountability and shouldn’t have to wait years to get it. This is a serious access to justice problem that the Ontario government needs to immediately address,” said Smitiuch in a press release.

Smitiuch told CityNews he has filed several wrongful death lawsuits and delays like this have become quite common.

“We were told there was jury, there seemed to be a judge, but there was no courtroom,” said Smitiuch. “This is common in Brampton, unfortunately. Brampton is a very busy court. They have excellent staff, excellent judges, but they don’t have the resources to hear these trials.”

Smitiuch said the solution is more funding from the provincial government.

“The Ford government needs to step up and address this issue. It’s an access to justice issue. People can’t get trial dates for civil actions and it’s unacceptable.”

“The Tiwari family were ready for a trial starting 2020 and now they have to wait almost a year and a half.”

In a value-for-money audit of the Ontario justice system in December, the Auditor General found that 55 courthouses (out of a total of 74) which reported above-average delays in disposing cases also operated fewer hours than the optimal average. Some courtrooms were actually sitting empty during the Auditor General’s visits to a sample of courthouses.

Ontario courtrooms were only in operation 2.8 hours on an average business day, below the optimal average of 4.5 hours.

The Ministry of the Attorney General said they are working with their legal partners to explore ways to address delays and backlogs in the justice system.

“Reducing delay requires a multi-faceted, coordinated approach and the co-operation of all partners in the justice system including, the police, judges, prosecutors and defence counsel,” read a statement from the Ministry.

They also added they have expanded access to their Simplified Procedure process which they say will reduce wait times in the Superior Court of Justice as many civil cases can be moved to Small Claims Court. It also will allow for more resources to be applied towards other pressing cases.

Rakesh said he has little faith that his court case will actually proceed in 2021 and added his son won’t be laid to rest until the case has concluded.

“But now his ashes are sitting at the crematorium because I made the pledge. I did not do the religious rituals to finally let him go from my side [until I can say] ‘You know what, son, we got justice for you.’ There is a possibility that other people will get justice too,” said Rakesh

William Osler Health System, which runs Brampton Civic hospital, said they were unable to discuss the matter further as it was before the courts, but acknowledged they didn’t meet their standards in this case.

“As a part of our standard processes, we share the findings from reviews as well as the actions taken to address recommendations, to further enhance our systems and procedures,” read a statement from a William Osler spokesperson.

They added this was an extremely tragic outcome and was devastating for the family and the “Osler community has been deeply affected by this tragedy.”

Ontario’s chief coroner rejected the family’s request for an inquest into Prashant’s death back in 2015, because it was deemed there was no systematic public safety issue.

Significant snowfall coming to GTA on Saturday

NATASHA RAMSAHAI AND ADAM STILES | posted Friday, Jan 17th, 2020

**NOTE: these are early predictions and forecast models can change several times a day. Meteorologists will have updates every 10 minutes on 680 NEWS. Meteorologist Adam Stiles will have updated forecast models and will be taking your questions on CityNews’ Facebook Live, Friday at 4 p.m.** 


It’s been a really quiet January weather-wise and we haven’t seen any notable snowfall since around early December.

That all changes this weekend with a big serving of snow on the way for Saturday. Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement saying “significant snowfall amounts expected overnight Friday night through Saturday evening.”

Early predictions of snow totals show about 10 to 15 centimetres. In comparison, we’ve had a total of just 10 centimetres of snow all this month.

Meteorologist Natasha Ramsahai has a breakdown of how it’s expected to play out:


  • A moderate-to-high impact winter system will eject out of the Central Plains and move across the Great Lakes, funneling moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Cold air ahead of the system on Thursday night and Friday ensures a snowy start, but warmer air Saturday night will change some areas over to a rain-snow mix or even straight rain for a few hours overnight Saturday.
  • The rain will not last long enough to melt the bulk of the snow. It will however, make the snow pack down and become heavier and hard to move by hand/shovel.


  • Snow and blowing snow starts between 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Saturday.
  • The heaviest snow will come Saturday afternoon.
  • Rain will start to mix in especially through the west end and along the lake during the evening and overnight as temperatures rise.
  • Behind this system, lake effect snow could be heavy at times on Sunday.

Who and how much:

  • For areas that don’t see rain mixing in, snowfall amounts could be in the 15 to 20 centimetre range, especially north and east GTA, up through cottage country.
  • Most of the rest of Toronto will get about 10 to 15 centimetres plus a millimetre or two or two of rain.
  • The Hamilton to Niagara region will see less snow and more rain.

What NOT to call this:

  • A weather bomb
  • A blizzard
  • Polar vortex
  • Weird and/or wacky


  • The snow may be heavy at times and travel will likely be affected in the GTA Saturday afternoon and evening.
  • The snow will be light, fluffy and blowy to start, switching to heavy, wet snow late Saturday afternoon.
  • If storm drains are blocked with snow, localized flooding is possible for areas to the west that will likely get more rain on top of the snow.
  • Temperatures will drop back down to freezing overnight which could make untreated surfaces very slippery come Sunday morning.
  • A cold front coming through Sunday afternoon could create brief whiteout conditions as it passes.
  • Thereafter, plummeting temperatures will make things very icy Sunday night.
  • Dangerous wind chills near -20 degrees by Monday morning means the risk of frostbite returns.


Stay tuned to 680 NEWS’ weather page for the latest updates as we brace for the coming inclement weather.

Teachers in Ontario’s French system start work-to-rule campaign

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jan 16th, 2020

Teachers in the Ontario’s French system are starting a work-to-rule campaign on Thursday, meaning they will no longer be completing some administrative duties.

The union, known by its initials AEFO, said this is only the first phase of its job action.

The move means all the major unions representing the province’s teachers are now taking part in some form of labour action.

Teachers were outraged last year when the Progressive Conservative government announced that average high school class sizes would increase and four e-learning courses would be mandatory for graduation.

The government has since scaled back those plans, but union officials have said that’s not enough.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce maintains the key sticking point in talks is compensation.

On Wednesday, Lecce announced plans to compensate parents of children affected by rotating strikes, in a move union leaders characterized as a “bribe.”

Under the plan, parents whose kids aren’t yet enrolled in school but attend school-based child-care centres affected by the strikes will get the most money, while those with children in grades 1 through 7 will get the least. While parents of secondary school students won’t get any funding, those with children with special needs up to age 21 will get $40 per day.

Lecce said the funding is intended to ensure students “remain cared for” during the labour actions being staged by the province’s four major teacher unions.

The announcement was met with swift condemnation from the leaders of several teachers’ unions.

FAQ: How to apply for $60 credit during Ontario teacher strikes

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Jan 16th, 2020

The Ministry of Education announced Wednesday they would be providing up to $60 to parents affected by the rotating one-day strikes by all four teacher’s unions in the province.

Currently all four teacher’s unions are participating in job action. Next week, the Elementary Teacher’s Federation of Ontario will be holding a strike on Monday in 16 school boards, Catholic teachers will hold a province-wide walkout next Tuesday.

The union representing high school teachers, OSSTF, is planning a one-day strike at some boards, including Durham Region, on Wednesday and French-language teachers will be starting a work-to-rule campaign on Thursday.

Who is eligible to receive assistance?

Parents are eligible to receive financial support if they have children in three separate categories:

  • If your child attends a school-based child care centre that has to close because of a strike;
  • If your child is in junior kindergarten up to and including Grade 7 at a publicly-funded school that has to close because of a labour disruption;
  • If your child has special needs and attends a publicly-funded school up to and including Grade 12 (up to age 21) that has to close due to a labour disruption.

You are not eligible if your child attends a child care centre that is based outside of a school.

How much are you entitled to?

Parents are entitled to between $25 and $60 per day depending on the age of their child. Here is the breakdown:

  • $60 for a child between the ages of 0 and 6 who attends a school-based child care centre that is required to close due to a strike;
  • $40 for students in junior and senior kindergarten
  • $25 for students from Grade 1 to 7
  • $40 for students from junior kindergarten to Grade 12 who have special needs.

How do you apply?

Only one parent is allowed to apply per student and you can find the application on the Ministry of Education’s website.

You also need to submit separate applications if you have more than one child.

What information do I need to apply?

The application requires you to provide you child’s name, birth date and school board. If your child is not enrolled in school, you have to provide the child care centre they attend, along with the name and phone number of the child care centre director or supervisor.

You also need provide contact information including your name, phone number, address and email.

If you want to receive the payment via direct deposit, you also need to provide banking information.

How will I receive my payment?

You can choose to receive your payment either by direct deposit or cheque. The application has a spot to provide your banking information in order to receive a direct deposit. It will take two weeks for the first deposit to be made and it will be made weekly for as long as you are eligible for.

Those who wish to receive payment by cheque will have only one mailed to them at the end of the labour disruptions.

How soon after a one-day strike can apply for payment?

You must apply for financial assistance within four weeks of the labour disruption.

How do I find out if my child’s school or child care centre is affected by a strike?

Most school boards will provide detailed information about whether they are affected or how they are affected by the labour disruptions and strikes on their websites and social media pages. You can find your child’s school board on the Ministry of Education website. 

CityNews will also be posting information about strikes as soon as it is available.


The ministry is also allowing licensed child care programs to extend their hours, to request a temporary relocation in order to avoid any labour disruption and they will be able to request increasing the number of children they are licensed to support.

What you need to know if you’ve captured evidence of a crime on your dashcam, or home surveillance

MICHAEL TALBOT | posted Thursday, Jan 16th, 2020

Surveillance cameras have become a ubiquitous part of modern life. Whether you’re withdrawing money from an ATM, shopping for clothes, standing on a street corner or riding an elevator, there’s a great chance your every move is being recorded.

But it’s not just Big Brother that’s keeping an eye on you. It’s also your neighbour and the person snarled in the same rush-hour traffic jam. With advancements in technology, it’s now easier and more affordable to arm your own home, or the dashboard of your vehicle, with a recording device.

And while dashcams and front porch cameras are primarily used for personal security and to capture evidence of traffic collisions or package thefts, they can also inadvertently become unbiased witnesses to serious crimes like gang shootings and murders.

Police routinely ask for help from the public securing video evidence in homicide cases, and as defence lawyer Adam Boni tells CityNews, that evidence is often used to convict, and at times, exonerate.

“The last three or four murders, video surveillance from homes and laneways … made up a significant part of the Crown’s case,” he said. “The security that we all sort of want for our properties and ourselves also has this other sort of use and purpose.”

“So there’s interesting issues there in terms of the public’s involvement and their obligation, and what happens when they decide to turn over video,” he added.

We asked Boni, a former federal prosecutor who went on to start his own criminal defence practice in Toronto, to outline what you need to know if your home recording device or dashcam captures evidence of a crime.

Is the public obliged to turn over video evidence?

“They are not obliged to turn it over,” he stressed. “There is no legal requirement that the public turn over video to the police. It’s a question of personal choice and a sense of whether there is an ethical obligation to do so. But typically, if the police want to see this type of evidence, if there is no consent, they can apply for a search warrant.”

“In video surveillance cases, typically what happens is either the video is voluntarily turned over or the police became aware of it, obtain a search warrant, then execute the warrant and seize the video under lawful authorization.”

“There is no legal requirement that the public turn over video to the police.”

Will you have to testify if you turn over video evidence?

“The provenance of the video is always an issue of proof of the Crown, so where the video comes from and its integrity. So typically, if you do turn over surveillance video, the police are going to want to know where it came from, what kind of video recorder recorded it, and they are gonna probably want to seize the recorder or make a copy of the video.”

“If you turn over this evidence, typically, you will be called to give evidence there is no doubt about it.”

“If you turn over this evidence, typically, you will be called to give evidence there is no doubt about it.”

Can you incriminate yourself?

“Typically, the police are quite grateful for any assistance the public could give them. But certainly, if you do turn over a video and it is video that contains incriminatory evidence, once you turn it over, you’re open to an investigation.”

“I’ve never seen that happen before, but theoretically, yeah absolutely. If you hand over a video and the video shows that you were involved in an assault on your neighbour the day before, that’s certainly something that could come back, there’s no doubt about it.”

“If you do turn over a video and it is video that contains incriminatory evidence, once you turn it over, you’re open to an investigation.”

How important is video evidence?

“The reality is now, more and more we are seeing homicide cases, every type of case imaginable, but mostly in the homicide cases, we are seeing a lot of video surveillance evidence and in the drug cases as well too.”

“The video evidence typically is evidence that defence lawyers love to have. It’s a witness that doesn’t lie. It’s an objective recording of the events.”

“The technology is wonderful because it offers us a sense of security, it offers us a sense of knowledge and further information, but these recordings have multiple uses. Uses to the State and the accused.”

“The video evidence typically is evidence that defence lawyers love to have. It’s a witness that doesn’t lie. It’s an objective recording of the events.”

Man stabbed outside Etobicoke fast food restaurant

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Jan 16th, 2020

Toronto police are on the hunt for a suspect after a worker at a fast food restaurant was stabbed Wednesday night.

Emergency crews were called to a Subway sandwich location on Dixon Road, near Carlingview Drive, just before 11:30 p.m.

Police said the employee got into an altercation with the suspect on Monday over the fact that the man was in a car blocking the entrance to the shop.

The suspect returned to the restaurant Wednesday night and an altercation broke out, resulting in the employee being slashed across the chest.

Paramedics rushed the victim, a man believed to be in his 20s, to hospital with a serious but not life-threatening stab wound.

The suspect had fled the scene by the time authorities arrived.

He is described as black, in his 40s, and wearing a puffy red jacket with a hood. Police believe the vehicle is a black Hyundai.

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