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Car crashes into OPP vehicle on Highway 400

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Jun 30th, 2021

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) say a driver was taken to hospital after the car they were driving crashed into a parked police SUV on Highway 400 on Tuesday evening.

An OPP officer was stopped in a northbound lane of Highway 400, assisting another motorist whose vehicle had broken down.

When the officer was outside his vehicle speaking to the other motorist, another vehicle lost control and slammed into the back and side of the stopped police vehicle, said the OPP.

The driver suffered minor injuries and the officer was not injured.

Highway 400, northbound at Inisfil Beach Road is closed for the investigation.

Canada’s top doctor can’t say when residents can ditch the mask

CORMAC MAC SWEENEY, MICHELLE MORTON | posted Wednesday, Jun 30th, 2021

Despite Canada’s soaring vaccination numbers, it appears you won’t be tossing your mask out any time soon.

There’s been less than 640 new cases each day across the nation. More than 30 per cent of eligible Canadians are fully vaccinated, and we are closing in on 80 per cent for at least a first dose.

But our chief medical health officer said the Delta variant still poses a risk for a fourth wave, and can’t give an estimate of when masks can be ditched.

“It’s a combination of things,” Dr. Theresa Tam said, “I think we do have to be quite cautious because the provinces are just beginning to open up and we will then see what happens.”

Tam notes not every adult is vaccinated and children under the age of 12 are not eligible to receive a shot yet, so mask wearing in some public settings may continue for a while.

“We could prevent the fourth wave if we can get the vaccine coverage even higher, and including 80 per cent vaccine coverage in the younger adult population,” Tam said.

Tam said, “even though we have a good first dose coverage, we still need to, I think, go a bit higher. And quite a number of people haven’t had the full vaccination, so this is a period, I think, that we should be more cautious.”

Some countries, such as Israel, have been forced to bring back their mask mandates after prematurely getting rid of them.

Last week, the federal government released new guidance for fully vaccinated Canadians, explaining they can meet indoors without masks if they are meeting with other fully vaccinated people — but should still practice precautions like wearing a mask, if there are non-vaccinated people, because the virus can still be transmitted.

Adamson Barbecue constitutional challenge dismissed by Superior Court judge

MEREDITH BOND | posted Wednesday, Jun 30th, 2021

A constitutional challenge against the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA), which was raised by Adam Skelly, owner of Adamson Barbecue, has been dismissed by a Superior Court judge.

Adamson Barbecue and Skelly made headlines last November when he failed to obey lockdown measures and kept his restaurant open.

On Nov. 26, 2020, Skelly was arrested and hit with several charges including mischief and obstructing police after he opted to defy COVID-19 health protocols by hosting patron for in-person dining, subsequently breaking health regulations imposed by the city and the province.

He was also slapped with an $187,000 bill from the City of Toronto, which included policing costs and having to change the locks.

In February of this year, Skelly launched a constitutional challenge against the province in an attempt to “question the constitutional validity and applicability” of the ROA under which he was facing charges.

The Reopening Ontario Act includes all the emergency orders enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic by the province, including restrictions on gatherings, retail stores and restaurants.

In the Notice of Constitutional Question, it says, “The restrictions put in place by governments to impose draconian measures on its citizens without a scientific or medical rationale constitutes an abuse of human rights and a crime against humanity.”

The notice also questions whether COVID-19 actually constitutes a danger that could result in serious harm to people.

As of June 29 of this year, 9,154 Ontarians have died as a result of the virus since the pandemic started in March 2020. More than 3.9 million people have died worldwide.

A hearing was scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, but Justice Jasmine Akbarali declined to “take jurisdiction” and dismissed the motion.

The Ministry of the Attorney General said the judge accepted the province’s argument that the motion could not proceed with written reasons expected to follow. A spokesperson said the ministry would not be commenting further as the matter is before the court.

A post on the Adamson Barbecue’s Facebook page said he intends to appeal the decision and is “are prepared to take this all the way to the Supreme Court.”

Skelly raised over $337,000 for his legal defence through crowdfunding after his initial arrest.

Long-term care residents allowed 10 visitors outdoors as Ontario eases restrictions

MEREDITH BOND | posted Wednesday, Jun 30th, 2021

Long-term care residents will be allowed to have 10 visitors outdoors as Ontario announced plans to ease restrictions at long-term care homes.

The loosened restrictions, announced by new Minister of Long-term Care Rod Phillips, will take effect on July 7.

Residents will also be allowed to have up to two caregivers and two general visitors indoors at the same time. The limit on number of people designated as caregivers has been removed.

Fully immunized visitors will be able to have close physical contact while those who are not must social distance, apart from a brief contact. All visitors will still be required to wear masks.

Within the long-term care homes, personal care services will be allowed and resident cohorting can be eased for outdoor activities.

The province says as of June 28, virtually all residents are fully immunized against COVID-19 and 92 per cent of staff have received at least one dose. Around 84 per cent have both doses of the vaccine.

The ministry also updated its vaccination policy for employees. Any staff, student placements and volunteers will be required to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or provide a documented medical reason for not being vaccinated.

If they don’t provide either of the two above, they must participate in an educational program about the benefits of being vaccinated and risks of not being vaccinated.

This will be effective July 1, 2021.

A further easing of restrictions is also expected when the province enters Step 3 of their reopening plan. This includes the following:

A further easing of restrictions is planned to align with the timing of Step Three of the Roadmap to Reopen. These changes are expected to include:

  • Removing the limits on the number of visitors to the homes
  • Permitting buffet and family style dinning
  • Providing that all residents will be able to go on absences regardless of immunization status
  • Resumption of off-site excursions for residents
  • Resumption of activities such as singing and dancing

Ontario reports fewest new COVID-19 cases since September

MICHAEL RANGER | posted Tuesday, Jun 29th, 2021

Ontario is reporting 210 new COVID-19 cases and three deaths on Monday.

It is the smallest daily increase of new infections since Sept. 13.

The province is reporting a test positivity rate of 1.8 per cent, down slightly from 2.5 per cent one week ago.

There were 13,071 tests completed in the last 24-hour period.

Locally, there are 37 new cases in Toronto, 26 in the Region of Waterloo, 25 in Grey Bruce, 15 in Peel Region, 12 in Hamilton and 12 in Niagara Region.

There were another 326 resolved cases, dropping the active case count once again. Resolved cases have outnumbered new infections each day since mid-April.

The rolling seven-day average drops to 276, reaching the lowest point since Sept. 17.

The province reported 287 cases and 12 deaths on Sunday.

There are now 218 people hospitalized in the province testing positive for the virus and there are 287 in the ICU with COVID-19 complications. The amount of people testing positive in the hospital reached an eight month low on Sunday.

There were more than 202,672 vaccine doses administered in the last 24-hour period.

As of 8:00 p.m. Sunday, 14,07,510 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, 76.4 per cent of Ontario residents 12 and older have received at least one dose while 33.4 per cent are now fully vaccinated.

More Ontarians became eligible for an accelerated second COVID-19 vaccine on Monday morning.

The province will allow any residents 18 and older who received their first dose of an mRNA vaccine to move up their appointment. Recipients of a first dose of Pfizer or Moderna can receive their second jab as soon as 28 days after their first shot.

According to the province, this will accelerate second dose eligibility for approximately 1.5 million Ontarians.

Canada should have enough COVID-19 vaccine by the end of this week to fully inoculate 75 per cent of all Canadians over the age of 12.

The country is expecting more than 2.4 million doses of Pfizer this week and 1.4 million doses of Moderna. Those shipments will push Canada’s total vaccine deliveries above 50 million doses to date.

A mass vaccination clinic held Sunday at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto administered close to 27,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, setting a new North American single-day record.

The “Our Winning Shot” initiative, broke the previous record of 17,003 set back in April at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.

Ford hints reopening Ontario’s economy may happen quicker than planned

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Jun 29th, 2021

The premier hinted Monday that the reopening of Ontario’s economy may be done quicker than his government’s current plan.

Doug Ford said, “there’s no one that wants to open this province up more than I do, we’re very very close, we’ll be sitting down with the new chief medical officer of health, Dr. Moore, and we’ll get his advice, and if he gives us the green light — lets get this province open and start moving, I can’t wait, I really can’t.”

“The only few things that aren’t open are, you know, the indoor dining which is going to happen, and really outside of the casinos and the strip joints, they’re the only three things that aren’t open now, I’ll be honest with you, everything else seems to be moving forward but again we have to be cautious about the delta variant, and the gyms.”

Hair and nail salons and other personal care services are allowed to resume on Wednesday, when the province moves to Step 2 of the Ford government’s reopening plan, but gyms have to stay closed.

Ford is asking gym owners to remain patient.

“The gyms, my heart breaks for the people, we got to get those gyms open, folks just bear with us for a very short period, it’s going to happen, I have to follow the direction of the chief medical officer,” he said.

Outdoor fitness classes are allowed, but nothing indoors is allowed yet.

Man seriously injured in stabbing at Eglinton and Richardson

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Jun 29th, 2021

A man in his early 60s is in serious condition after being stabbed in the city’s west end on Monday night.

Emergency crews were called to the area of Eglinton Avenue West and Richardson Avenue, east of Keele just after 8:30 p.m. for reports of two men fighting.

Police say one of the men was stabbed at least 6 times in the upper body. He was rushed by ambulance to hospital with serious, life-threatening injuries. His condition was later upgraded to critical.

“There was apparently some sort of altercation that took place in the parking lot where [forensics officers] are operating right now. And that evolved apparently into a fight and then a stabbing took place,” said Inspector Michael Williams.

A male suspect was last seen fleeing the area towards Keele Street. He was wearing a white or yellow t-shirt and blue jeans at the time and left on a motorcycle or e-bike.

The relationship between the two men is unclear at this time.

Police believe he is armed with a knife and should be considered dangerous. If spotted, police say to call 9-1-1.

Toronto teacher who led fatal school canoe trip testifies at negligence trial

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jun 29th, 2021

A Toronto teacher who led a school canoe trip during which a teenage student drowned told his trial Monday that he didn’t follow certain safety guidelines established for such trips because they didn’t reflect industry standards and would have prevented some kids from participating.

Nicholas Mills testified that the guidelines for overnight canoe trips set by the Ontario Physical and Health Education Association don’t align with standards and practices used in commercial excursions, private trips and outings organized by Scouts Canada, adding some are “not practical” or “not necessary.”

The rules requiring that students pass a swimming test beforehand without wearing a lifejacket, and that all lifeguards on the trip be over 18 years old, are among those Mills said he didn’t follow for the annual trip, which ran from 2013 until the fatal outing in 2017.

“I knew that you could run safe canoe trips without following all the OPHEA rules, and I don’t even know the number of people who do (follow those rules) every single summer,” he told his trial Monday.

“And it was a really great experience for the kids” to go on the multi-day excursion, he said.

Even so, the rules he did put in place for the school trips were “way above normal standards in the canoeing industry across the country,” Mills said.

Mills, a teacher at C.W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute, organized and oversaw the July 2017 trip to Algonquin Provincial Park during which 15-year-old Jeremiah Perry drowned. He has pleaded not guilty to criminal negligence causing death.

Prosecutors allege the teacher neglected safety rules and requirements related to the multi-day excursion.

Mills said Monday he saw the OPHEA guidelines as just a “framework that you use with your own personal skills,” but acknowledged that if he wrote on his paperwork that they weren’t being met, “the superintendent or someone above me… would not let the trips happen.”

He insisted, however, the school’s principal at the time, Monday Gala, knew students were being allowed to undergo the swimming test with a lifejacket — something Gala denied when he testified earlier in the trial.

The teacher said the pair discussed the issue clearly in the early years of the trip, and noted Gala had seen students take the test in the school’s pool before the process was moved to Sparrow Lake in 2015.

The principal knew “we were modifying the test, just like we were modifying so much else,” Mills said.

He compared allowing lifejackets during the test to giving students with learning disabilities more time to take an exam, saying both measures allowed more students to participate.

Students who did the assessment with a lifejacket would have to wear one to swim during the trip as well, the teacher testified. Everyone had to wear them while in a canoe, he said.

A student who was also on the trip previously testified he never saw Perry without a life jacket on the trip, but said the teen appeared to be a bad swimmer.

Adrian Coufadis told the court earlier this month that he teased Perry about his poor swimming skills after seeing the younger boy struggling to reach their canoe on the first day of the trip.

But Coufadis said he didn’t think at the time to tell Mills about his observation.

The trial is proceeding in person and by videoconference.

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