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Liberals hold on to Toronto-Centre, York-Centre ridings

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Oct 27th, 2020

Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have hung on to two normally safe Liberal seats in Toronto.

But their reduced share of the vote is a humbling result for the prime minister in the first electoral test of his government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Broadcaster Marci Ien retained Toronto Centre for the Liberals in yesterday’s byelection, but had to fend off a strong challenge by newly minted Green party leader Annamie Paul.

Business woman and Jewish activist Ya’ara Saks also held on to York Centre for the Grits, but ended only 700 votes ahead of her Conservative challenger.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says the results are a sign that Canadians are losing faith in Trudeau.

During last fall’s general election, the Liberals took Toronto Centre with just over 57 per cent of the vote, York Centre with just over 50 per cent.

Yesterday, Ien took 42 per cent of the Toronto Centre vote — a 15-point drop.

Saks captured almost 46 per cent, a four-point drop.

Ontario reports more than 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Oct 26th, 2020

Ontario reported 1,042 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday – the highest single-day total in the province since the pandemic started was declared back in March.

It’s the second straight day the province has set a new benchmark, having reported 978 new infections on Saturday.

The rolling seven-day average has jumped to 857 from 747 just a week ago as the total number of cases in Ontario surges past 70,000.

“While today’s data is concerning, the increase in cases may be the result of Thanksgiving gatherings,” said a Ministry of Health spokesperson. “We will continue to monitor the situation and take swift action as needed to limit the transmission of COVID-19, keep our schools and economy open, and protect our most vulnerable.”

Toronto remains the hotspot of the province with 309 cases, Peel Region is next with 289, followed by York Region with 117, and Ottawa with 80.

Toronto’s medical officer of health says the current levels of infection are the reason why she is urging people to limit contact as much as possible to people they live with.

“The virus spreads from person to person.  It needs us.  If we limit our exposure to people, we limit the virus’s ability to spread,” says Dr. Eileen De Villa.  “It is still early days since the recent imposition of some limits on activities. It will take some more time to assess the success of these actions.  In the meantime, I cannot stress enough how much rests on the decisions we make as individuals.”  

“We did this before.  We forced back the rise in infections last spring. If we limit our contact, keep our distance, and wear our masks, we will contribute significantly to the ability to limit virus spread and that is the most important thing of all,” she added.

Durham region reported 52 new cases, up one from the previous day, while Halton saw an increase of 10 new cases to 31. The province is contemplating whether or not to move those regions into a modified Stage 2 as well, despite objections from some politicians in Halton.

Provincial health officials say they processed 38,769 tests in the last 24-hour period, raising the positivity rate up to 2.7 per cent from 2.2 per cent the day before.

Another seven deaths were recorded, bringing the provincial total up to 3,093.

The number of people hospitalized was reported at 278, however the province noted that approximately 40 hospitals did not submit data and that the total number is actually higher. Seventy-nine patients are currently in ICU with the number of those on ventilators increasing to 54.

On the same day of Ontario’s record total, Quebec eclipsed a new milestone with more than 100,000 coronavirus cases.

The province registered 879 new cases Sunday, bringing its total to 100,114 infections since the pandemic began.

Quebec has been hard hit by the virus, recording nearly half of all the COVID-19 cases in Canada to date.

Ontario set to decide on imposing new restrictions on Halton, Durham regions

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Oct 26th, 2020

Premier Doug Ford is expected to announce today whether Ontario will impose stricter COVID-19 restrictions on two Toronto-area regions.

Ford said Friday that the experts would look at the caseload in Halton and Durham regions over the weekend to determine whether they need to roll back to a modified Stage 2 of the province’s pandemic recovery plan.

Ottawa, Toronto, Peel and York regions have all seen the restrictions reimposed over the last several weeks as cases of the novel coronavirus soar within their borders.

But politicians in Halton urged the province not to lump them in with neighbouring Peel Region, saying there aren’t as many COVID-19 cases in the area as elsewhere in the province.

Halton Public Health recorded 34 new confirmed cases on Saturday, and 31 on Sunday, while Durham recorded 41 cases on Saturday and 52 on Sunday.

Peel Region, which has a population roughly twice as large as Durham’s and 2.5 times bigger than Halton’s, recorded 289 new cases on Sunday.

Man dead following shooting near Danforth Avenue and Victoria Park Avenue

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Oct 26th, 2020

Toronto police are investigating after a man died following a shooting in an LCBO parking lot near Danforth Avenue and Victoria Park Avenue.

Police tweeted at around 6 p.m. Sunday that they had been called to the area for reports of gunfire.

When officers arrived, they found a man suffering from serious injuries, police said.

Toronto Paramedic Services said they transported the victim to the hospital in life-threatening condition. He later succumbed to his injuries, police said.

The police service’s homicide unit has now taken over the investigation.

Investigators said they have detained three suspects. A knife and a bullet casing were also found at the scene, police said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the police directly. Tips can also be left anonymously with Crime Stoppers.

Voters prepare to cast ballots in two Toronto byelections Monday

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Oct 26th, 2020

Residents in two Toronto ridings will head to the polls on Monday in a byelection.

Nine candidates are running in the riding of Toronto-Centre to fill the seat vacated by Bill Morneau following his sudden resignation as finance minister and MP in August. Newly elected Green Pary leader Annamie Paul is among the notable party candidates along with former broadcaster Marci Ien, who is running for the incumbent Liberals, Benjamin Gauri Sharma for the Conservatives, Brian Chang for the NDP and Balijit Bawa for the Peoples Party of Canada.

Shortly after winning the Green Party nomination, Paul called on the Prime Minister to suspend the byelections due to the rising cases of coronavirus which had particularly affected a high number of low-income and racialized neighbourhoods in the Toronto-Centre riding.

Over in York-Centre, there are six candidates vying to replace Michael Levitt including Peoples Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier. Ya’ara Saks is the Liberal nominee while Julius Tiangson is running for the Conservatives, Andrea Vásquez Jiménez for the NDP and Sasha Zavarella is the Green Party candidate.

Polls will open at 8:30 a.m. and close at 8:30 p.m.

If you are a registered voter, you need to bring government identification and your voter information card to the polling station.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Elections Canada has implemented a number of safety measures to make voters feel safe as they cast their ballots. Masks are required at the polling station, hand sanitizer is available and social distancing will be enforced. The federal agency also said only one poll worker will be allowed per desk and voters are also allowed to bring their own pencil to mark their ballot.

Man suffers serious injuries in Scarborough stabbing

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Oct 23rd, 2020

A man has suffered serious injuries in a stabbing near Victoria Park Avenue and Highway 401.

Police were called to Pharmacy Avenue and Meadowacres Drive just after 7:30 p.m.

It’s unclear where the stabbing occurred, but a man was located with stab wounds. He was rushed to hospital in life-threatening condition.

There have been no further details released at this point.

Man injured in possible targeted shooting in Thornhill

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Oct 23rd, 2020

A man is in hospital and another person is in custody after a shooting overnight in Thornhill.

Emergency crews were called to the scene near Proctor and Henderson avenues just before 1 a.m. Friday.

Police said the victim suffered a gunshot wound. He was rushed into surgery and is expected to live.

Police believe this may have been a targeted shooting.

One person was taken into police custody and officers are searching for a second suspect. There is not believed to be a threat to public safety at this time.

Ontario businesses to non-locals: stay home

TINA YAZDANI AND NEWS STAFF | posted Friday, Oct 23rd, 2020

The province’s message to people living in hot zones: don’t travel outside your region.

Many businesses outside Toronto, York and Peel have implemented locals-only policies, following the Ontario government’s message to those in hotspots not to travel outside their regions.

“I think in the circumstances that we’re in right now, we really need to listen to the premier,” says Oakville Mayor Rob Burton.

Implementing the policy has been a difficult decision for many entrepreneurs, who are now forced to weigh safety against profits.

In a regular year, much of Stratford, Ontario’s business comes from non-residents who come to town to catch a show at the Stratford Festival, visit the shops, and grab a meal. While restauranteur Jessie Votary would like to welcome in visitors, she says now isn’t the time.

The four restaurants she owns in town don’t take patrons who live more than 50 kilometres away.

“Some people are lovely” when they learn of the rule, says Votary. But “there are some folks that are very, very angry. I get, ‘How dare you?’ ‘Don’t you want my money?’ is another line I hear frequently.”

Her businesses, already taking a hit from reducing capacity to comply with safety rules, don’t benefit from barring would-be patrons.

“Of course we want to see tourists,” she says, “but I also don’t want a global pandemic to last longer than it has to.”

The consequences of a business not protecting against COVID are clear: becoming the centre of an outbreak. A situation that could force their community into Ontario’s “modified stage two” of pandemic restrictions.

David Soberman, professor of marketing at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management notes such a rollback would have long-term consequences for regions.

“If we’re not able to get the pandemic under control, it’s going to be a lot more devastating for these regions,” he says, “because the restrictions that will have to be implemented will be tougher.”

Gyms are also taking action. Chains including GoodLife and LA Fitness have asked their members not to travel to nearby cities if they’re from hot zones. Goodlife has even frozen accounts to prevent those in Toronto, Peel or York from booking workouts in other areas.

It may be tempting for those living in COVID hot zones to get out of town, and enjoy some indoor dining where they can, but health officials right across the province have warned against non-essential travel as it could lead to further spread of the virus in regions that are seeing low case counts. It is a hard pill to swallow for areas that rely on visitors.

“In the short term, this is going to be really tough on some of the cities that depend on traffic coming from Toronto, like Niagara, like St. Catherine’s, like the wine region,” notes Soberman.

In fact, without tourists from the United States, some wineries say GTA visitors are crucial for business.

“We’re really thankful for it,” says Doug Whitty, president of 13th Street Winery in St. Catharines, Ont. “People are discovering there’s a really great wine region right in their own backyard; many of them were not aware of it.”

He adds that while there is concern about people travelling from hot spots to visit, his winery has worked on lowering their risk: “We put all the safety protocols in place to deal with customers no matter where they come from.”

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