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Ministry of Health says masks will not be mandatory on a provincial level

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Jun 30th, 2020

The province will not move to make masks mandatory in public spaces, despite an appeal from mayors in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area.

The Ministry of Health said Monday night that a provincial masking policy is not necessary.

Markham mayor Frank Scarpitti has been spearheading the campaign to make masks mandatory in Ontario.

He was joined by Toronto Mayor John Tory, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti and Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua in a request to make face coverings mandatory indoors, provincially.

The mayors were hoping the province would put in a provincial order, rather than having each individual municipality have to create its own bylaws.

However, in a statement, ministry spokeswoman Alexandra Hilkene said local medical officers of health have the authority to institute the same policy.

“Doing so at a local level would ensure responsiveness to community needs without applying the same policy to regions with little to no COVID,” she said.

The province continues to urge people to wear masks if possible and continue to practice physical distancing.

Those who have conditions like asthma or other respiratory illnesses and cannot tolerate a mask are being asked to follow other measures like staying home as much as possible, frequently wash hands and maintain physical distance from those outside their social bubble.

Blue Jays continue prepping for Toronto camp while awaiting government OK

SHI DAVIDI, SPORTSNET | posted Monday, Jun 29th, 2020

The Toronto Blue Jays continue to prepare for a training camp at Rogers Centre as they await official approval from the Canadian government, planning a charter flight from Dunedin this week while loading up a shipping truck at the club’s Florida facility.

Some players had flights north booked for Sunday and Monday, but were told to stay put until final word comes in, as expected, early in the week. Steps like booking a charter, likely for the Wednesday report day, indicate the Blue Jays are confident their modified cohort quarantine plan built around the dome and the attached hotel will convince public health officials to work around the border restrictions in place, as well as the mandatory 14-day quarantine for arriving travellers.

As Sportsnet colleague Hazel Mae pointed out, such a set-up will allow the Blue Jays to satisfy those requirements while also beginning to work out.

The push to shift camp from Florida to Toronto came after a COVID-19 outbreak at the club’s Dunedin facility a week and a half ago, amid a spike in spread of the coronavirus across the state, as well as elsewhere in the U.S.

The Blue Jays had hoped to play their 30 regular-season home games in the city all along, but added camp to their request from the government as the situation deteriorated in Florida. They continue to prepare for a camp in Dunedin, as well, just in case.

Though club president and CEO Mark Shapiro was in contact with all three levels of government throughout the shutdown, he could not submit a formal proposal until Major League Baseball and the players union settled on details of the season last week.

An ensuing time crunch followed — Shapiro said Friday that players would be told where to go this weekend – creating uncertainty even as signs point toward spring in Toronto.

The Blue Jays, meanwhile, submitted their player pool to MLB ahead of Sunday’s deadline, including a handful of top prospects from the lower levels of the minor-leagues.

Shortstop Jordan Groshans, 2019 first-round pick Alex Manoah, right-hander Simeon Woods Richardson — part of the return in the Marcus Stroman deal with the New York Mets last summer — and catchers Riley Adams and Alejandro Kirk were all included on the 58-man list.

Leaving two spots open gives the Blue Jays flexibility to add players down the road, including potentially 2020 first-round pick Austin Martin, should he sign as expected.

Notable absences from the list include non-roster invitee Marc Rzepczynsk and right-hander Yennsy Diaz, who was placed on the 60-day injured list in March with a right lat strain when infielder Joe Panik was added to the 40-man roster.

Toronto police lay more sexual assault charges against neurologist

THE CANADIAN PRESS AND NEWS STAFF | posted Monday, Jun 29th, 2020

Police say they’ve laid several new sexual assault charges against a Toronto neurologist.

Toronto police say the 75-year-old man was already charged with five counts of sexual assault in December.

Investigators allege the man sexually assaulted five patients at the Wasser Pain Management Clinic between 2002 and 2016.

The man is now facing another 14 counts of sexual assault and one charge of sexual assault with a weapon.

Police say the accused was the director of neurology at the downtown clinic, and first worked as a neurologist in Toronto in 1975.

Investigators are asking anyone with information to come forward. Tips can also be left anonymously with Crime Stoppers.

Man charged after boy abducted, setting off Amber Alert

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Jun 29th, 2020

A 44-year-old man is facing charges in the abduction of a six-year-old boy, which set off an Amber Alert across southern Ontario on Sunday.

Niagara Regional Police first issued the alert around 12:30 p.m. Sunday for what they termed as a “possible parental abduction.”

Police said the boy was believed to be with his father and that the pair were last seen in the Hamilton area around 9 a.m.

The situation came to an end approximately 40 minutes later when police announced that the boy had been found and was safe.

“At approximately 1:10 p.m., as a direct result of the Amber Alert issued at 12:30 p.m., …the suspect surrendered himself to officers and was arrested without incident,” police said in a brief statement. “The child is safe and uninjured.”

Police say a 44-year-old Hamilton man is facing a charge of abduction in contravention of custody or parenting order and disobeying a court order.

The man is scheduled to have video bail hearing on Monday in St. Catharines.

Internet Folklore: The case of the heart-shaped honeycomb

THE BIG STORY | posted Monday, Jun 29th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, you may have seen the picture during one of its many trips around the internet over the past seven years. It’s a honeycomb shaped like a heart, allegedly made by the bees themselves, freeform, when their keeper forgot to put the frame in their hive.

It’s a lovely story, and that’s why it sticks around. Is it true? Not entirely. Does that matter? Maybe. But the case of the heart-shaped honeycomb provides a look inside a rapidly developing field called Internet Folklore, and can teach us a lot about the stories we tell and why some of them endure.

GUEST: Steve Bryne, Folklorist

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Canadian Museum of Human Rights CEO resigns over allegations

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Jun 26th, 2020

The president and CEO of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights has resigned following recent allegations of systemic racism, discrimination and claims of sexual harassment at the Winnipeg facility.

The museum’s board of trustees says John Young has agreed that it is in the best interest of the museum that he step down, effective immediately.

“We will act quickly to improve museum processes and our policies, and to rebuild relationships and trust with our staff and those we have let down, especially the Black and Indigenous communities, people of colour and LGBTQ2+ communities,” board chairwoman Pauline Rafferty said Thursday in a news release.

“We apologize unreservedly for what has happened and we know that the fight against systemic racism, homophobia, inequality and all forms of othering must be ongoing, and must be a priority.”

Rafferty said the allegations were not properly brought to the attention of the board of trustees.

She said now that the board has a more complete understanding it is taking immediate action and will undertake long-term steps to address the problems.

Rafferty is to take over as Interim CEO until a new leader is in place.

The board said an external, third-party review of the museum is already underway.

The board said the review will focus on experiences with systemic racism and other forms of discrimination, along with the censorship of LGBTQ2+ content shared by current and former museum staff up until June 22.

The preliminary findings of the report are to be received by July 31 and include recommendations for “meaningful cultural change within the museum.”

This initial review is to be followed by an institution-wide examination of all museum policies and practices and will enable current and former staff to share additional experiences.

Earlier this month, leadership at the museum apologized for censoring displays about LGBTQ history at the request of some school groups.

Six members of the executive team signed an apology that said the practice was contrary to everything the museum stands for.

The museum said it stopped the practice of hiding content in 2017.

A week earlier, the museum announced it would conduct an external review following social media posts alleging a racist and discriminatory work environment.

The controversy became public after the museum posted images of a Justice for Black Lives rally and current and former employees began responding that it was hypocritical because of racism they faced working at the museum.

Other current and former employees also posted online how they were asked to avoid showing displays of LGBTQ history to certain school groups.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada, the union that represents staff at the museum, said these issues have been raised with management since 2018.

Earlier this month, Federal Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault said he takes very seriously the apparent cases of self-censorship of LGBTTQ realities at the museum.

Former Winnipeg mayor Glen Murray said he resigned from the board of Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights over what he called “this betrayal of its mandate.”

Section of Lake Shore, Bayview closed this weekend for ActiveTO

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Jun 26th, 2020

A section of Lake Shore Boulevard and Bayview Avenue will be closed this weekend for ActiveTO.

The eastbound lanes Lake Shore from Windermere Avenue to Stadium Road will be off-limits to drivers. The eastbound Gardiner Expressway off-ramp to Lake Shore will also be closed.

The eastbound lanes of the Lake Shore will also be closed from Leslie Street to just south of Woodbine Avenue.

Bayview Avenue from Front Street East to Rosedale Valley Road, and River Street from Gerrard Street East to Bayview Avenue, will be shut down.

The closures will be in place from 6 a.m. Saturday to 11 p.m. Sunday, June 28 at 11 p.m.

The parking lots at Sunnyside Park, Sir Casimir Gzowski Park and Budapest Park will also be closed during that time.

ActiveTO allows people to walk, run, and cycle on city streets while being physically distant.

Two arrested in fraud case linked to luxury house rentals

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Jun 26th, 2020

A 37-year-old Markham man who CityNews has been tracking for months and a 25-year-old woman from Mississauga are facing several fraud charges following an investigation into housing rentals in north Toronto.

York Regional Police say the investigation began in April 2020 after information was received about a suspect in possession of fake identification documents. Investigators determined the fake documents were being used to rent luxury homes in Markham and Richmond Hill from December 2019 to June 2020.

Police say the properties were then sub-leased as rooming homes and in some cases dozens of people were found residing in the homes and paying rent to the suspects.

Homeowners say they were not paid any rent by the suspects and they have been unable to evict them or the occupants due to COVID-19 restrictions.

John Davies, who owns a property in Thornhill, says his home is one of those that was rented out to one of the suspects.

“Now it’s a mess,” Davies tells CityNews. “There is garbage all over the floor, there are people sleeping in the furnace room and the storage cupboard in the basement.”

Davies says he was duped by a man who claimed he was going to rent it and move his family in. Instead, his home on Brookshire Circle, at one point, housed nearly 20 people.

“We bought this house actually for my wife’s parents and they were living there but they wanted to move in with us which left this house available and we decided to rent it out,” he explained.

Davies claims he signed an agreement to rent the home as a single-family unit to Arif Syed.

“This is in the contract… a legally binding contract,” said Davies.

Davies says in December of last year, he walked into his new nightmare.

“It was only then that we realized that there are massive people in the house, turns out, that every single room in the house was occupied.”

Davies said he was charging Syed around $3,000 per month but, based on his estimate, Syed was making $11,000 per month by sub-letting rooms in the home.

While rooming houses such as this are a violation of Markham’s bylaws, Davies says it’s hard to enforce.

CityNews tracked down Syed last February, who denied operating a rooming house.

An eviction case before the Landlord and Tenant Board last March was dismissed due to a technicality.

That’s when the police investigation began and on Thursday, Arif Adnan Syed and Hafsa Naseer were arrested and charged with two counts each of uttering forged documents as well as identity fraud and one count of fraud over $5,000.

This is not Syed’s first run-in with the law. CityNews discovered he has a lengthy wrap sheet dating back to 2010, including being charged with running unethical businesses.

When reached by phone on Thursday, Syed told CityNews his name will be cleared in court.

“I don’t have fraudulent documents. I have my name, date of birth and my own ID. I will present evidence in court to prove this,” he said.

As for Davies and his home in Thornhill, he’s still waiting to find out how this arrest will impact his case but is hopeful he can force an eviction next week.

“For this person or this tenant to have done this not only to us but to them (renters) is appalling.”

York Region Police Sgt. Andy Pattenden says they believe there are more victims and are asking anyone with information to contact police.

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