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2 more nooses found at Michael Garron Hospital construction site

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Sep 25th, 2020

Two more nooses were found at a construction site at Michael Garron Hospital, a spokesman from EllisDon, the company heading the construction project, has confirmed.

Dustin Luchka told CityNews that Toronto police were contacted and an investigation has been launched.

“We plan to do a full site stand down [on Friday] with our leadership team to address the project team and condemn these actions,” he said in a statement. “We will also be providing access to counsellors for any of our team members who need immediate mental health support and guidance.”

Back in June, two nooses were discovered at the same construction site on Coxwell Avenue and Mortimer Avenue.

At the time EllisDon said the nooses were strategically placed and that the act appeared to be racially motivated.

The incident led to an investigation my the Toronto Police Hate Crime Unit.

60 pharmacies across Ontario to offer COVID-19 testing as of Friday

Kyle Mack | posted Thursday, Sep 24th, 2020

The province of Ontario will begin offering COVID-19 testing at up to 60 pharmacies as of this Friday.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says the testing is for asymptomatic people and will be by appointment only. People will have to undergo pre-test screening to ensure they have no symptoms before being tested. There will be no charge for the test.

Here is the list of pharmacies that will make COVID-19 testing available to asymptomatic people:

Rexall, Unit A01 – 545 Steeles Avenue West
Shoppers Drug Mart, 160 Main Street South
Shoppers Drug Mart, 10665 Bramalea Road
Shoppers Drug Mart, 34 A Avondale Boulevard
Shoppers Drug Mart, 366 Main Street North
Shoppers Drug Mart, 10048 McLaughlin Road
Shoppers Drug Mart, 1 Kennedy Road South
Shoppers Drug Mart, 3938 Cottrelle Boulevard
Shoppers Drug Mart, 11965 Hurontario Street, Brampton

Shoppers Drug Mart, 51 King William Street

Rexall, 90 Copper Creek Drive

Shoppers Drug Mart, 6975 Meadowvale Town Centre Circle
Shoppers Drug Mart, 101 – 5602 Tenth Line West
Shoppers Drug Mart, 1 – 5425 Creditview Road
Shoppers Drug Mart, 7070 Mclaughlin Road
Shoppers Drug Mart, 579 Lakeshore Road East
Shoppers Drug Mart, 3980 Grand Park Drive
Shoppers Drug Mart, 2470 Hurontario Street
Shoppers Drug Mart, 700 Burnhamthorpe Road East

Cedarview Pharmacy, 12 – 4100 Strandherd Drive, Nepean
Medicine Shoppe 143, 19 – 5303 Canotek Road
Rexall, 1615 Orleans Boulevard, Orleans
Shoppers Drug Mart, 1180 Walkley Road
Shoppers Drug Mart, 647 Earl Armstrong Road
Shoppers Drug Mart, 455 Bank Street
Shoppers Drug Mart, 541 Montreal Road
Shoppers Drug Mart, 3940 Innes Road, Orleans
Shoppers Drug Mart, 2954 St. Joseph Boulevard, Orleans
Shoppers Drug Mart. 1937 Portobello Boulevard, Orleans
Shoppers Drug Mart, 1 – 2148 Carling Avenue
Shoppers Drug Mart, 1309 Carling Avenue
Shoppers Drug Mart, 1102 Klondike Road, Kanata

Medicine Shoppe 134, 2600 Eglinton Avenue West
Rexall, 4459 Kingston Road, Scarborough
Rexall, 250 Wincott Drive
Rexall, 901 Eglinton Avenue West
Shoppers Drug Mart, 1630 Danforth Avenue
Shoppers Drug Mart, 1601 Bayview Avenue, East York
Shoppers Drug Mart, 1027 Yonge Street
Shoppers Drug Mart, 3446 Dundas Street West
Shoppers Drug Mart, 1400 Dupont Street
Shoppers Drug Mart, 360A Bloor Street West
Shoppers Drug Mart, 123 Rexdale Boulevard, Etobicoke
Shoppers Drug Mart, 900 Albion Road, Etobicoke
Shoppers Drug Mart, 4841 Yonge Street, North York
Shoppers Drug Mart, 5095 Yonge Street
Shoppers Drug Mart, 3874 Bathurst Street, North York
Shoppers Drug Mart, 2550 Finch Avenue West, North York
Shoppers Drug Mart, 2751 Eglinton Avenue East, Scarborough
Shoppers Drug Mart, 629 Markham Road, Scarborough
Shoppers Drug Mart, 2301 Kingston Road, Scarborough
Shoppers Drug Mart, Unit A -1780 Markham Road, Scarborough
Village Square Pharmacy, 2942 Finch Avenue East

Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report

Trudeau calls COVID-19 ‘fight of our generation’ in national address

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Sep 24th, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the battle against COVID-19 the “fight of our generation” in a national address that touched upon the virus response plan, financial supports for Canadians and strengthening the economy.

In the speech that lasted less than 15 minutes, Trudeau reiterated much of what was announced in the speech from the throne earlier in the day.

Trudeau also addressed the rise in cases of COVID-19 across the country and cautioned that the second wave is already underway in Canada’s four biggest provinces – Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta.

“The numbers are clear. Back on March 13, when we went into lockdown, there were 47 new cases of COVID-19. Yesterday alone, we had well over a thousand,” he said, adding that Canada is on the brink of a fall that could be much worse than the spring.

Trudeau said September’s case numbers have already been decided by the actions of citizens over the past two weeks, but expressed hope that October and the winter could be different.

“It’s all too likely we won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving, but we still have a shot at Christmas,” he said.

Trudeau encouraged people to take the flu shot this year and download the COVID Alert app. He also reiterated public health guidelines about wearing masks, washing hands, limiting your social circle, avoiding undue risks and encouraged vigilance among all Canadians.

“This is no time for parties,” he said. “No one is invincible, neither are your loved ones. We cannot let our guard down now.”


Liberals unveil sweeping plan for current and future challenges in throne speech

STEPHANIE LEVITZ, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Sep 24th, 2020

The minority Liberal government unveiled sweeping goals Wednesday to expand or extend supports for Canadians from nearly every sector of society in a throne speech billed as their “ambitious plan for an unprecedented reality.”

But the plan hit political reality very quickly with two of the three main opposition parties in the House of Commons immediately saying they wouldn’t support it. The Liberals’ most likely dance partner, the NDP, waltzed around whether they’d vote yea or nay.

If they don’t, the country could head into an election just as public health officials are warning the country is on the cusp of a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, with some areas already there.

The Liberals’ throne speech acknowledged that if they don’t first tackle the pandemic, they can’t move forward on previous commitments to fight climate change, address systemic racism and economic inequality.

“We must address these challenges of today. But we also cannot forget about the tests of the future,” said the text of the speech, read in the Senate by Gov. Gen. Julie Payette.

Her words hung over a near-empty chamber as COVID-19 restrictions limited the number of people who could be present in the Senate. Not far from Payette sat Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, wearing a mask.

Later Wednesday, Trudeau addressed Canadians in a nationally televised address, warning that the dreaded second wave of the pandemic is already underway in the four largest provinces.

“We’re on the brink of a fall that could be much worse than the spring,” he said.

He noted there were well over 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 in Canada on Tuesday, compared to just 47 new cases on March 13, when the countrywide lockdown to curb the spread began.

Trudeau said it’s “all too likely” families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month, but if Canadians do their part then he said there is hope on the horizon: “We still have a shot at Christmas.”

Trudeau used the televised address to summarize the contents of the throne speech unveiled just hours earlier.

The Liberals promised in the speech to do whatever they can to protect Canadian lives and help stave off another economy-crippling lockdown, including creating a federal “testing assistance response team” to meet the surge in demand, and targeted support to businesses forced to close due to local public health orders.

With millions of Canadians lives and livelihoods still teetering after the pandemic’s first wave, the Liberals promised to move ahead with a shift from emergency benefits to a more robust employment insurance system to incorporate COVID-19 supports. They’ve also reversed course on a planned end to the federal wage subsidy program, now saying they’ll extend it into next year.

But the immediate goals of the government to restart the economy and support Canadians are matched by the need of the Liberals, who hold a minority of seats in the House of Commons, to stay in power.

The eventual vote on the throne speech is a confidence motion and the Liberals need at least one of the three main opposition parties in the Commons to back their plan.

The Conservatives panned the speech Wednesday as being a case of “Ottawa-knows-best,” out of touch with Canadians’ needs and provincial powers.

“The prime minister had an opportunity to present a real plan to Canadians, and he didn’t do that,” said deputy party leader Candice Bergen.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called the speech pretty words on paper. He said his party has two demands: make sure that the end of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit in lieu of an expanded employment insurance program doesn’t mean people actually get less money, and introduce paid sick leave.

“We’ve not decided yes or no on the throne speech,” Singh said.

“I’m saying we need to see some actions to back up these words.”

Trudeau’s rivals dismissed his televised address as further proof the throne speech amounts to an election platform.

Opposition leaders will have a chance to respond. Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, who is in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19, recorded his reply ahead of time.

The Conservatives, who had also said they’d like to see some measure of fiscal restraint included after months of unchecked spending, saw those demands unmet.

“This is not the time for austerity,” the speech says.

“Canadians should not have to choose between health and their job, just like Canadians should not have to take on debt that their government can better shoulder.”

Trudeau expanded on that during his televised address.

“Low interest rates mean we can afford it,” he said. “And in fact, doing less would end up costing far more. doing less would mean a slower recovery and bigger deficits in the long run.”

The Liberals do hint, however, that the taps won’t run forever, promising they will be guided by “values of sustainability and prudence.” They say they will provide a fiscal update in the fall.

They are also promising some new sources of revenue, including looking for ways to tax “extreme wealth inequality,” and addressing digital giants perceived not to be paying their fair share of taxes.

The Liberals post-pandemic “resiliency agenda” also includes plans for broad national programs, including a decades-old Liberal promise to implement a national child-care program. They also say there should be national standards for long-term care.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet, currently in isolation due to COVID-19, said the federal government’s ambition strays too far onto provincial turf.

He said his party would give the Liberals one week to meet Quebec’s demands for increased federal health transfers to the provinces.

“Otherwise, we will vote against it,” Blanchet said in an interview.

There are also promises for tougher gun laws, legislation to address systemic racism in the justice system, more support for reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and a new disability benefit regime.

But the cornerstone of the “resiliency agenda” is combating climate change, the Liberals said.

There are a series of commitments on that score, including legislation a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 and investments in technologies to help achieve that goal.

The promises all come with no firm price tags, nor many specific timelines.

“Taken together, this is an ambitious plan for an unprecedented reality,” it says.

“The course of events will determine what needs to be done when. But throughout, protecting and supporting Canadians will stay the top priority.”

Ontario fall pandemic preparedness plan roll out continues today

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Sep 24th, 2020

Premier Doug Ford is expected to continue the roll out of his fall pandemic preparedness plan today.

Health Minister Christine Elliott’s office has confirmed the announcement will provide spending details related to testing and case and contact management.

The premier has already announced the province will launch a bolstered flu shot campaign in the coming weeks in a bid to keep hospital capacity down.

On Wednesday, the government said that up to 60 pharmacies will begin offering COVID-19 tests to asymptomatic people starting Friday.

Other yet-to-be announced elements of the province’s plan will focus on quick identification, management and prevention of COVID-19 outbreaks.

The strategy will also address ways to reduce health service backlogs, prepare for case surges and recruit and train health-care workers.

‘Unexpected outage’ could delay COVID-19 test results: Public Health Ontario

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Sep 24th, 2020

Public Health Ontario (PHO) says due to an “unexpected outage” its laboratory is currently unable to access or issue patient test results.

“Some laboratory test reports may be delayed as a result,” PHO said on its website.

COVID-19 testing in Ontario has increased over recent days. In its latest report, the province said 35,436 were tested in the previous day.

More to come

Nurses, PSWs leaving health care industry amid COVID-19 pandemic

FAIZA AMIN AND MEREDITH BOND | posted Wednesday, Sep 23rd, 2020

The heroes on the front line of COVID-19, working to protect the most vulnerable population in the province, are now leaving or planning to leave their jobs which could potentially cause another crisis in long-term care homes.

The Services Employees International Union Healthcare (SEIU) union says nearly 30 per cent or 7,500 of the nurses and personal support workers they represent in Ontario have left their jobs or planning on leaving due to financial constraints.

“The most recent calls have been heartbreaking from front-line works who have had their jobs taken from them through no faults of their own,” said Sharleen Stewart, President of the SEIU.

The union says the government’s limiting of staff from working at multiple long-term care homes has placed a financial burden on thousands of their workers.

Stewart said, “The pandemic wasn’t their fault, the conditions were bad before COVID hit us where they were forced to work more than one job. Nobody wants to work three shifts a day to get a full-time salary.”

The restriction was put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 from home to home, and applies to a number of employees working at healthcare centers. But groups, including the Ontario Nurses Association, say the emergency order has exposed gaps that have been there long before the pandemic.

“We had a shortage of staff in long-term care before COVID, and I’m very worried about what the picture is if we don’t do something to help these people so they can stay working in the long term care sector,” said Vicki McKenna, President of the Ontario Nurses Association (ONA). “Single employer is the right way to go, but what we had discussions with government about was if they were going to institute the single employer, that somehow they need to offset the economic loss that employees would experience because of that.”

Prior to the pandemic, these health-care employees worked in several health care settings to make ends meet. As a result of the restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the union says their income has been cut by at least 50 per cent.

The Ministry of Long-Term Care tells CityNews that approximately 100,000 of these workers received the additional $4 per hour of pandemic pay, which has since ended.

“How are you ever going to take this money away form people who are already so poorly paid,” Steward said. “It’s like giving somebody some food and water and literally taking it away from them.”

The province adds that those who worked over 100 hours received an extra $250 dollars per month on their paycheck.

This was the strategy the province used to encourage staff to continue working in this field and attract new workers to help maintain the staffing levels.

“The government themselves could have taken this step to say ‘We’re not going to wait on employers to do the right thing, we’re going to do the right thing by insuring people’s wages are offset if they have an economic loss’,” said McKenna.

A number of long-term care organizations penned a letter to the province, warning that these facilities are not ready to manage a second wave of COVID-19 and the staffing shortage at these homes, has not improved.

“Ontario, the province with the largest number of long-term care residents in Canada, finds itself behind other provinces that have already completed the recruitment and training of thousands of new front-line staff … The recent surge in cases in Ontario and other provinces is a warning that we have little time to waste,” read the letter.

The letter added staffing issues have been made even worse in the current conditions. “Staff are exhausted and their mental health has diminished through the trauma they have experienced in either responding to severe outbreaks and tragic losses, or in working aggressively to prevent outbreaks.”

“We found ourselves in this situation during SARS, and here we are again,” McKenna said. “But what was different during SARS is that they set aside a fund to help offset some of that economic loss, and that didn’t happen.”

Over 1,800 people have died in over 340 long-term care homes that experienced outbreaks since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Some of them lost their spouses because they contracted COVID from their partners working in nursing homes,” Steward said. “They’re not willing to take that risk any more at the rate of pay that they’re getting, the precariousness of this work and in their opinion, the total disrespect of the services they give,”

On Tuesday, opposition leader Andrea Horwath and Liberal leader Steven Del Duca, both criticized the government for “not being prepared.”

Police investigating after package of syringes left outside Eglinton Junior PS

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Sep 23rd, 2020

Toronto police are investigating after a man left a package full of syringes and other paraphernalia outside Eglinton Junior Public School on Tuesday morning.

Police were called to the school around 10 a.m. after members of a community safety team saw the man leave the package by the school and leave the area on a dark-coloured bicycle.

The man is described as five feet nine inches tall and around 35 to 45 years old with a medium build. He was wearing a white and blue Blue Jays baseball cap, a white and grey striped, long-sleeved sweater under a black down vest, grey pants, and black running shoes.

A photo of the suspect has been released (see above) and anyone with information is asked to contact police.

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