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Peel police end school resource officer program, cite negative impact on students

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Nov 20th, 2020

MISSISSAUGA — Police in Peel Region have ended a program that placed officers in schools, saying it found the long-running initiative had a negative impact on parts of the student population

The force that serves the cities of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon says it paused school resource officer program in July.

It says the program, which largely served high schools, had not changed in more than 20 years.

The force says it conducted community consultations over the summer and found that change was necessary.

It says police will continue to work with the community on programming that engages students.

The development in Peel comes after the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board voted to end a similar program in June, while Toronto eliminated its school resource officer program in 2017.

Trudeau resumes briefings from home as COVID-19 cases soar across Canada

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Nov 20th, 2020

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will amplify his plea for Canadians to stay home as much as possible after alarming new projections for the spread of COVID-19 in Canada are released today.

The updated projections are expected to forecast a dramatic rise in cases over the next few weeks — to as much as 60,000 new cases a day by the end of the year — if Canadians don’t strictly limit their contact with people outside their households.

Trudeau is to hold a news conference after the latest modelling is unveiled by chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam this morning.

To underscore the importance of minimizing contacts, Trudeau will conduct the news conference outside his home, Rideau Cottage  — the site of his daily briefings during the first wave of the deadly pandemic last spring.

He ended that practice over the summer when the pandemic went into a bit of a lull and, throughout the fall until now, he has joined Tam and select ministers at news conferences on Parliament Hill once or twice a week.

Tam has already warned that Canada is on track to hit more than 10,000 cases per day by early December if Canadians maintain their current rate of contacts outside their household.

That’s more than double the current daily case count, which is already straining the health care system in some regions.

Sources briefed on the latest modelling say it projects a much worse scenario by the end of December — 20,000 cases per day at the current rate of contacts and as much as 60,000 a day if Canadians increase their number of contacts as the holiday season approaches.

The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the modelling before its official release.

Tam has said Canadians need to reduce their current rate of contact with others by at least 25 per cent in order to flatten the curve.

And last week, she and her deputy, Howard Njoo, gave a graphic description of the consequences if the trajectory toward more than 10,000 cases per day is not halted.

At the current level of just under 5,000 cases per day, Tam said routine medical procedures are being cancelled, intensive care beds are almost full and health-care workers are exhausted.

“So you can only imagine that if we got to that level (of 10,000), that the pressure on the health-care system will be huge,” she told a news conference in Ottawa on Nov. 13.

Njoo pointed to what happened in northern Italy and New York City last spring, when their health systems were overwhelmed.

“Doctors were having to make a life and death decision in terms of who would be on a ventilator, who wouldn’t. And who wants to be in that position?”

For several weeks, Trudeau has been almost begging premiers to impose more stringent restrictions on businesses and social gatherings in order to get the soaring caseload under control.

He has warned that the federal government’s resources are not infinite and that, if cases continue to increase exponentially, Ottawa’s ability to help premiers cope with the health crisis will be strained.

Trudeau has suggested, for instance, that Ottawa might have to begin choosing which regions will get personal protective equipment or Red Cross help to operate hard-hit long-term care homes.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 20, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Veteran OPP officer shot and killed on Manitoulin Island

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Nov 20th, 2020

A long-time Ontario provincial police officer was killed Thursday in a shooting that also left a civilian dead in the tight-knit community of Manitoulin Island along Georgian Bay.

The officer has been identified as Const. Marc Hovingh, who had been a member of the service for 28 years and worked out of the Little Current detachment.

The officer had been called to investigate an “unwanted man” on a property in Gore Bay early Thursday afternoon, the province’s police watchdog said.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) is now investigating the incident. In a statement, the SIU said police received a call at around 12:30 p.m. for an unwanted person on a property.

“Soon after officers arrived on the scene they encountered the man and there was an interaction,” explained SIU spokesperson Monica Hudon.

“As a result of that interaction, one OPP officer sustained a fatal gunshot wound. The man (civilian) was also shot and he was taken to hospital where he was pronounced deceased.”

There’s no word on the identity of the deceased civilian.

Initial reports suggested a second officer was shot as well, but officials now say that’s not the case.


Premier Doug Ford has issued a statement offering his condolences, saying he was “deeply saddened to learn of the death of Provincial Constable Marc Hovingh who was shot and killed in the line of duty…”

“Our government has requested that the flags at Queen’s Park be lowered out of respect for the fallen and their family who are grieving at this very difficult time.”

“My thoughts are with all the brave men and women on the frontlines who put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe.”

The news quickly made its way through the small island community, said Dan Osborne, mayor of Gore Bay one of several towns on the island.

He said he heard the sirens blaring early in the afternoon.

“We’re a large island, but we are small in numbers,” he said. “Everybody knows everyone, and it’s pretty devastating.”

Michael Mantha, who represents Manitoulin Island in the provincial legislature, said OPP officers are an important part of the community.

“The tight-knit community of Manitoulin Island is devastated at the tragic loss of Constable Marc Hovingh,” he said. “…We will be forever changed by the devastating loss of one of our own.”

Ford says new health measures coming Friday: ‘We’re staring down the barrel of another lockdown’

LUCAS CASALETTO | posted Friday, Nov 20th, 2020

Ontario’s premier is expected to announce today what new restrictions the province’s COVID-19 hotspots will face amid soaring case numbers.

Doug Ford had said on Wednesday that an announcement regarding new health and safety measures is on the horizon.

“We’re continuing to see extremely, extremely troubling numbers in Peel, Toronto and York Region,” Ford said on Wednesday.

“The virus is spreading at an alarming rate in these areas and I can’t stress this enough; this situation is extremely, extremely serious. Last week, I asked the chief medical officer of health to come back with his recommendations and what we need to do to flatten the curve in a second wave.”

Ford said the new measures, which could be aimed specifically at Toronto and Peel, will be discussed at cabinet and announced in the coming days.


Peel Public Health data – Nov. 18


Of the several regions currently in the province’s ‘Red Zone‘, the regional breakdown had Peel back out in front of Toronto with 463 cases compared to 410 in those two areas alone, accounting for 62 per cent of the province’s new infections.

“We’re going to get advice off the chief medical officer and bring it to cabinet and will have an announcement on Friday,” Ford said.

“I have mentioned it before, I won’t hesitate to lock things down, to protect the health and safety of every person in this province. Without the health and safety, we don’t have an economy. We will take a more targeted approach in the hotspots.”

Ontario said 33,4400 tests were completed on Wednesday, up from Tuesday but down from last week’s averages. Test positivity is at 4.5 per cent province-wide and down from yesterday’s increase to 6.1 per cent.

Last week, the Ford government announced sweeping modifications to its COVID-19 colour-coded framework and thresholds, adding several regions — including York, Halton and Hamilton — to its ‘Red Zone.’


Ontario epidemiology report – Nov. 1 – Nov. 7



Toronto Public Health updated its case records from Nov. 14, when there were 40 unreported cases resulting in an overestimation of counts. The City is seeing a decline in cases compared to Tuesday with 410, down from 569 cases.

“My friends, we need to hunker down. We need to stick together because together, we’ll get through this.”

Peel police dissolves School Resource Officer program after review

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Nov 19th, 2020

Peel Regional Police is dissolving its School Resource Officer (SRO) program because it “caused a negative impact on segments of our student population,” they said in a release on Wednesday night.

Earlier this year the decades old program was paused because the force said it had not changed it 20 years and “required significant review.” They acknowledged that there were long-standing concerns about systemic racism in the SRO program and “and the disproportionately punitive effects this type of traditional programming can produce.”

The review focused specifically on police interactions with students and a community-facing committee worked with police to understand the lived experiences of those affected by the program.

“Based on recommendations made by those most negatively impacted by this programming, the SRO program no longer exists,” they said in the release.

The force says it is publicly acknowledging that “change is necessary.”

“Moving forward, PRP will continue to work with our community regarding student engagement programming,” they said.

No extended winter holidays for Ontario’s students: Lecce

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Nov 19th, 2020

Ontario students will not have an extended winter holiday, Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced on Wednesday.

The idea of extending the annual break was being considered as a way to impede the spread of COVID-19 in the province, but Lecce announced Wednesday that after consulting with health officials it wasn’t deemed necessary.

“We have consulted with the Chief Medical Officer of Health as well as the Public Health Measures Table and have determined that an extended winter holiday is not necessary at this time, given Ontario’s strong safety protocols, low levels of transmission and safety within our schools,” Lecce said in a release.

Lecce stressed that Ontario schools have been “remarkably successful at minimizing outbreaks” during a second wave of the virus that’s seen record-breaking daily counts, most notably in Toronto and Peel Region.

“As we safeguard the progress we’ve made in our schools, we will continue to closely monitor all indicators, trends and numbers to protect the safety of our children, their families and all frontline staff in Ontario’s schools,” he added.

The decision comes on the same day that the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) announced the death of a Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) staff member from COVID-19.

“CUPE Ontario’s 280,000 members mourn the loss of our sister, a CUPE education worker at who passed away after contracting COVID-19. Our solidarity and condolences to her family, friends, and all her union colleagues,” the union said in a tweet Wednesday afternoon.

As of Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. provincial statistics reveal a total of 3,626 school-related COVID-19 cases so far in the province.

Of those cases, 2,077 have involved students and 670 schools have had at least one case. That represents almost 14 per cent of all Ontario schools.

So far, three schools have had to close as a result of COVID-19 outbreaks.

Psychiatrist to continue testimony in Toronto van attack trial

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Nov 19th, 2020

Warning: Details of the trial are graphic in nature, discretion is advised

A psychiatrist hired by the defence will continue testifying Thursday in the Toronto van attack trial.

The trial centres around whether Alek Minassian can be held criminally responsible for the 10 murders and the injuries of 16 others.

The defence said he should be found not criminally responsible — due to autism — for his actions that day.

Minassian has admitted in court to planning and carrying out the attack.

The only issue to be decided at trial is his state of mind at the time of the attack.

Dr. Rebecca Chauhan testified Wednesday that Minassian’s autism spectrum disorder left him struggling to understand emotions and vulnerable to the writings of a mass killer.

She told the court that in her conversations with Minassian, he admitted that he intended to kill every single person he struck with a rental van in April of 2018, especially young, attractive women.

The defence’s case rests on the argument that his autism spectrum disorder means he couldn’t fully understand the consequences of his actions during the attack.

In her assessment of Minassian’s autism, she concluded he suffers from a certain level of “mind blindness,” meaning he seems to “struggle with grasping the internal world of others and why they’d be so distressed.”

The doctor also made it clear to the court that she’s “not suggesting people with autism spectrum disorder are immoral. They learn from people around them the difference between right and wrong. They’re still able to make moral decisions but with less sophistication.” She added that when a situation is more complex, it can overwhelm a person with autism.

Woman killed, man arrested in stabbing near Christie Pits

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Nov 19th, 2020

A woman has died and a man has been taken into custody after a stabbing at a bar near Christie Pits.

Police were called to the scene near Bloor and Shaw Streets just after 5 p.m. to reports of an altercation between a man and a woman.

The woman was found without vital signs and emergency responders preformed CPR. She was pronounced dead on the scene.

One man was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Police say he has also been arrested.

Homicide investigators will be taking over the investigation. Emergency responders were focused in on the area around Jolly Bar on Bloor Street, but did not confirm where the stabbing took place.

It’s unknown what led to the altercation or whether the two people were known to each other.

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