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Ontario’s three largest teachers’ unions back on picket lines this week

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Feb 3rd, 2020

Only days after a flicker of hope in the ongoing labour dispute between Ontario teachers and the Ford government, the three largest unions will be back on the picket lines at various stages this week.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario and the province resumed talks for the first time since Dec. 19 last week. However, the mediator called off the discussions after three days just before the union imposed deadline for an agreement.

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association is set to return to the bargaining table on Monday, however, it will not prevent a full-scale walkout from happening on Tuesday.

The union representing French teachers, which wrapped up two days of talks last Thursday, has two more days scheduled this week.

Monday, Feb. 3

ETFO – Bluewater, Grand Erie, Halton, Ontario North East, Renfrew County, Superior Greenstone and Trillium Lakelands school boards

Tuesday, Feb. 4

ETFO – Avon Maitland, Durham, Durham Catholic, Hastings-Prince Edward, Lambton Kent, Peel, Rainbow, Thames Valley and Upper Grand school boards; Campbell Children’s School Authority.

OSSTF – Lakehead District, Thunder Bay Catholic District, Lambton Kent District, Thames Valley District, Waterloo Region & Waterloo Catholic District, York Region & York Catholic District, Halton District, Kawartha Pine Ridge District.

OECTA – all elementary and secondary schools in province will be closed for a one-day strike

Wednesday, Feb. 5

ETFO – Kawartha Pine Ridge, Keewatin-Patricia, Lakehead, Near North, Ottawa-Carleton, Penetanguishene Protestant Separate, Rainy River, Simcoe County and Upper Canada school boards; Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre

Thursday, Feb. 6

ETFO – all English public elementary schools in the province will be closed for a one-day strike

Friday, Feb. 7

ETFO – Algoma, Greater Essex County, Hamilton-Wentworth, Limestone, Niagara, Toronto, Toronto Catholic, Waterloo and York Region school boards; Bloorview, John McGivney Children’s Centre, KidsAbility,Moosonee, Moose Factory and Niagara Peninsula Children’s Centre school authorities

Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report

Kansas City defeats San Francisco to win Super Bowl

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Monday, Feb 3rd, 2020

Patrick Mahomes led Kansas City to three touchdowns in the final 6:13, and the Chiefs overcame a double-digit deficit for the third post-season game in a row to beat the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 Sunday in the Super Bowl.

The Chiefs were playing in the championship game for the first time since 1970, when they won their only previous NFL title. Coach Andy Reid earned his 222nd career victory, and his first in a Super Bowl.

The Chiefs trailed 20-10 and faced a third and 15 when Mahomes threw deep to a wide open Tyreek Hill for 44 yards. Kansas City scored a touchdown four plays later, and quickly forced a punt.

Mahomes then hit Sammy Watkins for 38 yards to set up a 5-yard scoring reception by Damien Williams that put Kansas City ahead 24-20 with 2:44 to go.

The 49ers reached midfield, but Jimmy Garoppolo was sacked by Frank Clark on fourth down. Williams’ 38-yard touchdown run was icing on the cake for Kansas City.

The 49ers fell short in their bid for a record-tying sixth Super Bowl title, even though they dominated for 3 1/2 quarters. Garoppolo threw for 219 yards and kept the Chiefs’ defence guessing by completing passes to eight receivers.

The 49ers became the third team in Super Bowl history to give up a 10-point lead in the second half. In two trips to the Super Bowl, Kyle Shanahan’s teams have been outscored 46-0 in the fourth quarter and overtime.

In seven drives as a play-caller in the fourth quarter of Super Bowls Shanahan’s teams have four punts, two turnovers, one failed fourth down and only six first downs.

Attendance for the Super Bowl was 62,417, the second-lowest in the game’s history behind only Super Bowl 1 – which drew 61,946 fans and didn’t even sell out.

Sunday’s game at Hard Rock Stadium was a sellout, though was much lower than the 74,059 who came to the game the last time it was at the Miami Dolphins’ home stadium.

China reports 361 deaths from coronavirus, more than 17,000 infected

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Monday, Feb 3rd, 2020

China on Monday reported 361 have died on the mainland from the new virus, with an additional 2,829 new cases over the last 24 hours bringing the Chinese total to 17,205.

The latest figures Monday come a day after the first death from the illness was recorded outside China, in the Philippines, as countries around the world evacuated hundreds of their citizens from the infection zone.

Chinese authorities completed a new, rapidly constructed 1,000-bed hospital for victims of the outbreak and delayed the reopening of schools in the hardest-hit province. Restrictions were tightened still further in one city by allowing only one family member to venture out to buy supplies every other day.

The Philippine Health Department said a 44-year-old Chinese man from Wuhan, the city at the centre of the crisis, was hospitalized Jan. 25 with a fever, cough and sore throat and died after developing severe pneumonia. The man’s 38-year-old female companion, also from Wuhan, tested positive for the virus as well and remained hospitalized in isolation in Manila.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte approved a ban on the entry of all non-citizens from China. The U.S., Japan, Singapore and Australia have imposed similar restrictions despite criticism from China and an assessment from the World Health Organization that such measures were unnecessarily hurting trade and travel.

The vast majority of those infected are in China; about 150 cases have been reported in two dozen other countries.

The U.S. on Sunday reported its ninth case, this one involving a woman in the San Francisco Bay Area’s Santa Clara County who arrived in the U.S. to visit family after recently travelling to Wuhan.

A hospital specially built to handle coronavirus patients in Wuhan is expected to open on Monday, just 10 days after construction began. A second hospital is set to open soon after.

Also, six officials in the city of Huanggang, next to Wuhan in Hubei province, were fired over “poor performance” in handling the outbreak, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. It cited the mayor as saying the city’s “capabilities to treat the patients remained inadequate and there is a severe shortage in medical supplies such as protective suits and medical masks.”

The trading and manufacturing centre of Wenzhou, with nearly 10 million people in coastal Zhejiang province, confined people to their homes, allowing only one family member to venture out every other day to buy necessary supplies. Huanggang, home to 7 million people, imposed similar measures on Saturday.

With no end in sight to the outbreak, authorities in Hubei and elsewhere have extended the Lunar New Year holiday break, due to end this week, well into February to try to keep people at home and reduce the spread of the virus. All Hubei schools are postponing the start of the new semester until further notice.

The crisis is the latest to confront Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who has been beset by months of anti-government protests in Hong Kong, the re-election of Taiwan’s pro-independence president and criticism over human rights violations in the traditionally Muslim territory of Xinjiang. Meanwhile, the domestic economy continues to slow, weighed down by slowing demand and the trade war with Washington.

New Zealand announced Sunday it is temporarily barring travellers from China to protect the South Pacific region from the virus. The 14-day ban applies to foreigners leaving China but not to New Zealand residents. New Zealand also raised its travel advice for China to “Do not travel,” the highest level.

Qatar Airways joined the growing number of airlines suspending flights to mainland China. Indonesia and Oman also halted flights, as did Saudi Arabia’s flagship national carrier, Saudia.

Saudi Arabia’s state-run media reported that 10 Saudi students were evacuated from Wuhan on a special flight. It said the students would be screened on arrival and quarantined for 14 days.

Over the weekend, South Korea and India flew hundreds of their citizens out of Wuhan. A Turkish military transport plane carrying 42 people arrived in Ankara on Saturday night. A French-chartered plane made its way toward France on Sunday with 300 evacuees from a multitude of European and African countries. And Morocco flew home 167 of its people, mostly students.

Indonesia flew back 241 citizens from Wuhan on Sunday and quarantined them on the remote Natuna Islands for two weeks. Several hundred residents protested the move.

Europe so far has 25 people infected with the virus. The German Red Cross reported two more cases there on Sunday, both German citizens who were airlifted from Wuhan on Saturday on a military transport carrying 128 people. Eight earlier cases in Germany were all linked to an auto parts factory.

France has six cases; Russia, Italy and Britain have two each, and Finland, Sweden and Spain each have one.

Vietnam counted its seventh case, a Vietnamese-American man who had a two-hour layover in Wuhan on his way from the U.S. to Ho Chi Minh City. The country ordered schools to close for at least a week in 19 of its 54 provinces and cities, including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, which together account for over 4 million students.

The number of confirmed cases will keep growing because thousands of specimens from suspected cases have yet to be tested, said the WHO representative in Beijing, Gauden Galea.

Canadian evacuees arriving from China to be quarantined at CFB Trenton

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Feb 3rd, 2020

Canadian evacuees from the Chinese province afflicted with the novel coronavirus will be quarantined for two weeks upon their arrival at an Ontario military base, the government announced Sunday night.

But Ottawa did not provide a timeline for when they’ll arrive from the locked-down city of Wuhan, saying it’s still awaiting final approval from Chinese authorities. Their plane will land at Canadian Forces Base Trenton.

“To protect the health and safety of Canadians – both those who are coming to and those already in Canada – the returning individuals will undergo a thorough health screening before boarding, during the flight and upon arrival at CFB Trenton, Ontario,” said a statement from Global Affairs Canada.

“All other returning Canadians, including staff and flight crew, will remain at CFB Trenton for 14 days for further medical assessment and observation, and be provided with all the necessary medical and other supports as needed to ensure the health and safety of all Canadians.”

Until Sunday, the federal government hasn’t said whether Canadians who eventually arrive from China would be quarantined. But officials said they were closely watching developments in other countries, including the United States.

Nearly 200 Americans have already been evacuated from Wuhan, and U.S. health officials ordered that they be quarantined for two weeks. It was the first time a federal quarantine has been ordered in that country since the 1960s, when one was enacted over concern about potential spread of smallpox, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

South Korea, too, quarantined its evacuees, who arrived in Seoul on Friday. They underwent screenings for fever before boarding buses to quarantine facilities established in the central towns of Asan and Jincheon. Residents there have protested plans to place the evacuees in their neighbourhoods, throwing eggs and other objects at visiting government officials.

The Australian government was forced to defend its plan, which involved sending evacuees to Christmas Island, which has been used to banish asylum seekers and convicted criminals. Critics warned that some Australians would prefer to stay in China rather than go there.

“The government remains fully engaged on the issue, and will do all that is necessary to ensure the safety of Canadians, both at home and abroad,” said a statement from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office after a meeting of senior cabinet members where the plan to quarantine at the Trenton military base was discussed.

The number of Canadians who want to flee the Chinese province afflicted by the virus climbed to 325 on Sunday.

Global Affairs Canada provided the updated figure on Sunday, as the world saw its first case of a person dying from the new coronavirus outside of China – a 44-year-old man in the Philippines.

“This has been a rapidly evolving situation and the number of Canadians asking for assistance is quickly changing,” said a statement from the department.

Global Affairs Canada said government officials and military personnel are currently en route to Hanoi, Vietnam, and in the process of obtaining visas from the Chinese government to enter Wuhan.

It said the government has chartered a plane to land in Hanoi and then head to Wuhan, where airspace is currently closed, once it gets approval from the Chinese government.

But there was no indication Sunday from Global Affairs about the status of that flight.

The department was, however, telling people not to go to the airport unannounced because they will not be permitted to board the aircraft. Instead, they were told to contact its Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa to make arrangements.

“Canada is chartering a plane to take Canadians from Wuhan, China back to Canada. We have 325 requests for departure assistance from Hubei Province and we will be reaching out to provide updates and to confirm their needs in order to assist our logistical planning,” the department said in a statement.

“Spaces will be limited and not guaranteed, and will likely only be confirmed with very little notice.”

Canada is consulting with the United States and Britain “to ensure co-operation and sharing of best practices in this operation,” the statement said.

China says 361 have died on the mainland from the new virus, with an additional 2,829 new cases over the last 24 hours bringing the Chinese total to 17,205.

The latest figures, released on Monday in China, come a day after the first death from the illness was recorded outside the country, in the Philippines, as countries around the world evacuated hundreds of their citizens from the infection zone.

Canada has four known cases – three in Ontario and one in British Columbia.

On Sunday, a second French-chartered plane carrying 300 evacuees from China landed at the military base of Istres in the southern French region of Bouches-du-Rhone. That followed the first French plane that landed on Friday.

In spite of the widespread fear of the virus, health officials in Canada have said chances of contracting it in this country are exceptionally low. They said people should take normal cold- and flu-season precautions of frequent hand-washing and covering coughs and sneezes.

Arrests made in 2018 mistaken identity fatal shooting

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Jan 31st, 2020

Peel police have confirmed arrests have been made in the shooting death of 23-year-old Jason Ramkishun, who was gunned down in what police called “a case of mistaken identity.”

Ramkishun was shot once while driving down Highway 410 northbound on Nov. 13, 2018 on his way home from work. The car veered off the road and paramedics say he was found without vital signs at the scene.

He was rushed to hospital where he died of his injuries.

Police believe the homicide was also related to a second shooting on the 410 that occurred a week later on Nov. 20.

A 26-year-old man suffered non-life-threatening gunshot wounds in the incident. He is believed to have been the intended target in the shooting that killed Ramkishun. Police said their two vehicles resembled each other.

Peel police are expected to hold a press conference on Friday at 11 a.m. to announce more than five people have been arrested in connection with both cases.

Pedestrian struck by vehicle at Sheppard and Allen Road

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Jan 31st, 2020

A pedestrian has been rushed to a trauma centre after being hit by a vehicle in the city’s northwest end.

Emergency crews were called to Sheppard Avenue at Allen Road around 4:45 a.m. Friday.

Police said the man, believed to be in his 30s, suffered life-threatening injuries.

The vehicle remained at the scene.

Police have closed the intersection while they continue to investigate.

3rd day of talks between Ontario’s public elementary teachers and government

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jan 31st, 2020

Contract talks are to resume Friday for a third day in a row between Ontario’s public elementary teachers and the government.

Friday is the deadline the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) has given to reach a deal with the government or the union will ramp up strikes next week.

The two sides returned to the bargaining table Wednesday for the first time since Dec. 19.

The elementary teachers have been holding one-day, rotating strikes for two weeks, but they are planning to walk out at each board twice a week starting next week if no deal is reached.

ETFO rotating strikes today are to hit the Peel and Hamilton-Wentworth school boards.

Meanwhile, in another crack in the teacher-government stalemate, the province’s English Catholic teachers say they will return to the bargaining table after talks broke off earlier this month.

No need to change Canada’s plans after WHO declares global emergency

DANIELA GERMANO AND ALLISON JONES, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jan 31st, 2020

Canada is already taking the right steps to control the spread of the novel coronavirus, so there is no need to change things now that the World Health Organization has declared a global emergency over the outbreak, federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said Thursday.

“The World Health Organization’s global emergency status is really … about helping countries that do not have the same level of sophistication as Canada, or perhaps the United States, to protect their citizens if in fact they have a citizen who returns from China who is ill, or has been close to someone who has returned from China who is ill,” Hajdu said in Ottawa.

“You know this has been working very well in Canada, because we have actually been able to detect cases very quickly, support those people to get better and prevent the spread of disease.”

The UN health agency defines an international emergency as an “extraordinary event” that constitutes a risk to other countries and requires a co-ordinated response.

Though many people experience only mild symptoms from the virus, China has reported more than 9,600 cases, including 213 deaths.

Hajdu stressed the need and the responsibility to remain calm.

“I think that anything that we are doing as politicians or leaders or members of the media that will create a sense of anxiety or panic is actually a dangerous road to travel down,” she said.

Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer, reiterated Thursday that the chances of an outbreak in Canada remain low.

“Most cases and the spread of the novel coronavirus are occurring in affected areas in China with only three cases detected in Canada,” Tam said.

“As well, all travel from China is now significantly diminished as a result of exit border measures by the Chinese government in the effort to contain the outbreak.”

The Canadian government is advising Canadians to avoid non-essential travel to China and avoid all travel to the province of Hubei, which includes the city of Wuhan which is considered ground zero for the virus.

Two confirmed cases are in Ontario and one is in British Columbia, which are all linked to recent travel in China. Tam said 101 people in Canada have been tested for the virus, with 58 testing negative for the respiratory illness.

Tam also expressed concern about discrimination against Chinese-Canadians because of the virus.

“It is understandable that our fears increase during times of uncertainty, but when this fear leads some people to spread stigmatizing stereotypes and misinformation, it only does harm,” she said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also warned against stigmatizing the Chinese-Canadian community.

“We’ve seen too many instances of unreasonable fears being spread either on the internet or in other ways,” Trudeau said in Brampton, Ont. “We need to know this is a time for Canadians – all Canadians, including Canadians of Chinese origin – to pull together and to lean on each other.”

Meanwhile, Tam said the Public Health Agency of Canada is working closely with Global Affairs, which is preparing to fly Canadians out of the Hubei province at the centre of the outbreak in China.

Tam would not comment on whether those people would be quarantined once they arrive in Canada, saying more information would be provided when it’s available.

Earlier Thursday, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health said the relatively low number of cases in the province is “reassuring.”

Dr. David Williams said there are no new presumptive or confirmed cases in Ontario, adding that he would be much more concerned at this point if the province had already seen about seven to 10 cases.

“This is reassuring in a way, but not that we’re going to sit back and coast,” he said. “The system is working. We’re investigating. Individuals of concern have self-reported, are coming forward and we haven’t seen ones that out of the blue show up already quite ill and infected. We’re not seeing that yet, but it’s still early days.”

He said there are 27 cases under investigation in the province, and 38 people have already been tested and cleared.

Williams said the coronavirus does not seem to be much different from regular influenza in terms of transmissibility, and evidence suggests it is not transmissible when a person is not feeling symptoms.

In Quebec, there have been no confirmed cases of the virus, and the chances of its being transmitted to the community are considered low, the province’s director of public health said.

Dr. Horacio Arruda warned the public against wearing masks, which he said “do not constitute, by science, a useful tool for the general population in Quebec, even in the context of a coronavirus outbreak.”

Instead, he suggested people practice “respiratory hygiene” by washing their hands and covering their mouths when sneezing or coughing.

If people have respiratory symptoms and have to go out in public, wearing a mask can help prevent transmission, Yaffe said, but it is not useful for the general population.

“Anybody who’s feeling well, wearing a mask is not going to do anything,” she said. “In fact, it might give them a false sense of security.”

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