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Teen driver charged in fatal Vaughan crash released on bail

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, May 27th, 2021

A 16-year-old boy charged in connection with a crash in Vaughan that left two children dead has been released on bail, his lawyer told CityNews.

The hearing was held on Wednesday and the bail conditions include house arrest.

A 10-year-old girl and her four-year-old brother both died after they were struck by a car that veered off the road on Athabasca Drive, just off Dufferin Street north of Teston Road, on May 16.

A neighbour who was with the children was also hurt, but his injuries were not life-threatening.

The teen driver from Richmond Hill has been charged with:

  • Two counts of Dangerous Operation Cause Death
  • Two counts of Criminal Negligence Cause Death
  • Two counts of Dangerous Operation Cause Bodily Harm
  • Two counts of Criminal Negligence Cause Bodily Harm

His next court appearance is on June 17.

Last week, the family of the two young siblings released a statement through York regional police.

“We are extremely traumatized by the tragic loss of our daughter and son,” the family said. “The past days have been extremely difficult for our family. We appreciate the prayers and thoughts of all those grieving with us.”

Police added that the family requested privacy and don’t want names or photos of their children released at this time.

‘Unacceptable and disgusting’: Support pours in for Oilers’ Bear after alleged racist social media comments

COURTNEY THERIAULT, KELSEY PATTERSON AND THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, May 27th, 2021

EDMONTON (CityNews) — Oilers defenceman Ethan Bear has allegedly been receiving racist messages on his social media following Edmonton’s first-round playoff loss to the Winnipeg Jets this week.

In a social media post, Bear’s girlfriend Lenasia Ned says the Oilers player, who is Indigenous, has been receiving hateful, racist messages by fans.

Fans are apparently blaming Bear, who made a mistake in Edmonton’s triple overtime loss in Game 4, for the Oilers’ four-game sweep in the playoffs.

“Ethan has received numerous racist messages and comments,” wrote Ned in a message posted to her Facebook and Instagram. “To hide behind a screen is cowardly. But to use stereotypes against him as an Indigenous person is dehumanizing and awful!!

“We will not be silenced. We will not except (sic) this behaviour. It’s 2021 we are all equal and this needs to stop.”
Many of the replies to the initial post were overwhelmingly positive. Ned said Bear appreciates the love and support from everyone else.

“Ethan has broken countless barriers as an Indigenous man to make it to the NHL,” she wrote. “He is human. We understand there is criticism but there is no room for racism.”

Bear, with Ned at his side, addressed the situation with a statement in a two-minute video posted to social media on Wednesday.

“I know this doesn’t represent all Oilers fans or hockey fans, and I greatly appreciate your support and love during this time. I’m here to stand up to this behaviour, to these comments. I’m proud of where I come from, I’m proud to be from Ochapowace first nation. I’m not just doing this for myself, I’m doing this for all people of colour, I’m doing this for the next generation, to help make change to love one another, to support one another, to be kind to each other. There’s no place for racism in our communities, in sports or our workplace.”

“I call on all of us to make change and end racism.”

The Oilers followed Bear with their own statement.

“The Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club is equally disappointed in these disgusting, cowardly and racist remarks. While we have witnessed progress in the area of equality and inclusion, this reprehensible behaviour demonstrates we still have significant work to do.”

“We call upon everyone in Oil Country to stand up to racism, call out hatred and do their part in making our community one of acceptance, inclusion and respect.”

The NHL also released a statement on Twitter later Wednesday.

“Ethan Bear represents both our game and his Indigenous heritage with dignity and pride,” the NHL said. “He, and all people from Indigenous backgrounds, deserve to feel empowered and respected on and off the ice. We stand with Ethan and his family in denouncing hate.”

Oilers GM Ken Holland addressed the alleged incident in his year-end media availability on Wednesday, saying he would reach out to Bear to offer any support needed.

“It’s totally unacceptable and disgusting,” said Holland.

The GM calls Bear an “unbelievable young man.”

“He’s a tremendous role model for all young athletes, especially in the Indigenous community,” Holland said. “He gives time to the community. He’s popular in the locker room.

“Two summers ago he spent his entire summer here in Edmonton in the gym every morning with our strength coach, focused, determined, committed to get himself in the best shape he could as an athlete to come into training camp to compete for a spot with out hockey team and he made our hockey team.

“I feel sick for him, I feel disappointed for him that he would he would get this kind of abuse. I think we’ve made strides, but there’s a long way to go to create a world where we’re where everybody feels safe and they don’t get this kind of racism and abuse.”

The 23-year-old Bear, from the Ochapowace Nation in southern Saskatchewan, is one of a small handful of active Indigenous players in the NHL, a list that includes Montreal Canadiens star netminder Carey Price and Stanley-Cup winner T.J. Oshie of the Washington Capitals.

In a letter issued prior to statements made by Bear, Holland, the Oilers and the NHL, Alberta’s Treaty No. 6 Chiefs said they were appalled at the racism directed towards Bear.

“The Chiefs condemn this act of violence toward Ethan, and are concerned by the lack of response by the Edmonton Oilers for not responding to this critical issue. Far too often our athletes and people are subject to acts of racial slurs and inappropriate derogatory language referencing the race of our people in sports.

“We call upon the National Hockey League to immediately take action to address this conduct of racism and hate towards First Nations people, especially at this time toward Ethan.”

Several took to social media to show their support of Bear, including former players, journalists, broadcasters and politicians.

Former NHLer Andrew Ference, who captained the Oilers for two seasons before retiring, said hockey had no place for racist fans.

“Ethan Bear is a very good hockey player. Lift him up and he will be an integral part of any success the Oilers have in the future.

“More importantly, Ethan Bear is an incredible human. If you’re sending racist remarks his way, you’re just a [expletive]. Hockey doesn’t want you.”

Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley also expressed her support of Bear.

“Ethan Bear, you’re an amazing athlete and ambassador for our community,” she tweeted. “You played so hard for the Oilers this year and have inspired so many youngsters. There is no place for racism in Edmonton. We must all be anti-racist.”

CityNews reached out to the Jets organization regarding the comments. True North Sports + Entertainment, the owner of the Jets, directed us back to a statement issued Thursday regarding racism in general, in which they said the murder of George Floyd was a “tragedy” and a “seminal moment in history that significantly raised awareness for issues of racism, social justice, diversity, and equity.”

–with files from The Canadian Press

Peel Region’s COVID-19 pandemic turnaround at a crossroads

SHAUNA HUNT AND JESSICA BRUNO | posted Thursday, May 27th, 2021

Health experts and community leaders say a pandemic turnaround is taking place in Peel Region. In stark contrast to just weeks ago, COVID-19 cases are down, positivity rates are dropping, and vaccination are numbers way up. But there’s one factor that could stall progress.

“Vaccines pave the way to getting back to normal,” says Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown. “So when you see numbers like this it’s no wonder you are seeing case counts declining so rapidly.”

Peel hit a milestone Wednesday with 70 per cent of eligible residents receiving their first shot. But this comes with a caveat, as significantly less vaccine supply is now being allocated to the hotspot.

“The province’s hotspot allocation has worked,” said Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel’s Medical Officer of Health. “That capacity delivered a record 170,000 doses in a single week, last week.”

Just one month ago, Peel Region was on fire, hitting a record of 1,232 daily cases. Brampton had a test positivity rate of 22 per cent and hundreds of COVID-19 local patients were being transferred to hospitals across the province.

Now, seven weeks into the stay-at-home order, results are being felt across the board. Peel reported 215 cases Wednesday, a number that hasn’t been seen since March.

Hospitalizations are stabilizing, and the test positivity rate has fallen to 12 per cent, which is still higher than the provincial average of 5.3 per cent but a significant drop. Another number that paints a positive picture, one million vaccine doses have now been administered in the region.

“A focus on the hotspots allowed us to get the situation under control,” Brown said.

At her afternoon briefing, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie added that the aggressive strategy has caused case counts to plummet rapidly over the last few weeks.

“Peel Region is now averaging 177 cases per 100,000, and that’s down from 232 cases per 100,000 a week ago,” she said. “We have gained huge momentum and we can’t take the foot off the gas now.”

For the first two weeks of May, hotspots like Peel and Toronto received 50 per cent of the province’s vaccine supply.

“It meant that we could open up vaccines to everyone 18+ and begin offering it to youth 12 to 17,” Crombie said. “It meant that we could get so many of our essential workers vaccinated.”

The provincial government is now sharing more supply with other public health units across Ontario, a measure Crombie says she understands.

But she is still calling on the province to consider doing more in the future for hotspot areas, noting that Peel still accounts for about 23 per cent of the province’s infections, with just 10.6 per cent of the population.

“I am hoping and strongly encouraging the province to again prioritize hotspot regions in the future, in future allocations in the coming weeks and months, especially as we look towards second doses,” she said.

In Mississauga, Crombie said the city will shift to focusing on the most vulnerable, through community outreach, mobile and primary care clinics. Brown adds clinics in Peel will be scaling back appointments.

“We are now receiving, for the next number of weeks, below our per-capita allocation which puts a strain on Peel Public Health, but we are looking at efforts to mitigate those decreasing supply numbers,” said Brown.

Still, Peel is moving forward with its vaccine roll out, working with Bruce Power to open Ontario’s largest vaccination hub at Brampton’s CAA Centre. The location will focus on vaccinating children between the ages of 12 and 17.

Loh is calling on the province to remain flexible with supply allocation and to continue prioritizing hot spots. He also says it’s time to start offering second doses, and he’s looking to the Ford government for a clear that follows the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table’s recommendations.

“Moving quickly with second doses in Peel and other hotspots will seal the deal and accelerate our return to a new normal with confidence, not only here but across Ontario,” he said.

Parents charged with abandoning 1-year-old child left in hot car in Mississauga

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, May 27th, 2021

The mother and father of a one-year-old child have been charged with abandoning the infant in an overheated car in Mississauga.

Police say they received a 9-1-1 call shortly before 12:30 p.m. from the area of Tranmere Drive and Derry Road East near Dixie Road.

The child was found locked alone in a white, four-door car parked in a lot on Tranmere and officers say the child was “in distress.”

The child was removed and taken to hospital where they are expected to make a full recovery. One officer also suffered minor injuries during the rescue.

Investigators have charged a 28-year-old man and a 27-year-old woman with failing to provide the necessities of life and abandoning a child. They are expected to appear in court on August 9.

The suspects have not been identified.

Peel police are working with the “appropriate community support service” to ensure the wellbeing of the child.

Police are also emphasizing the dangers of leaving a child unattended in a vehicle, especially in the summer months. The temperatures in Mississauga reached a high of 33.3 C on Tuesday, one of the hottest days of the year so far.

Maple Leafs shut out Canadiens to take 3-1 series lead

JOSHUA CLIPPERTON | posted Wednesday, May 26th, 2021

Jack Campbell made 32 saves to record his first post-season shutout, Alex Galchenyuk set up two goals and scored into the empty net against his former team, and the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-0 on Tuesday to take a commanding 3-1 lead in their first-round series.

Jason Spezza, with a goal and an assist, the red-hot William Nylander and Joe Thornton also scored for Toronto, which can wrap up this best-of-seven meeting between Original Six rivals at home Thursday in Game 5. Alexander Kerfoot had three assists.

Carey Price stopped 24 shots for Montreal. The Canadiens have scored just four times in 12 periods on Campbell in the first playoff meeting between the storied franchises since 1979.

The Leafs, who won consecutive post-season games in Montreal for the first time since the 1967 Stanley Cup final on the heels of Monday’s hard-fought 2-1 victory, haven’t advanced to the second round since 2004.

Toronto is 11-1 all-time when leading a series 3-1 – a situation the Leafs haven’t found themselves in since 1987 – while 91 per cent of NHL teams have advanced in the same scenario all-time.

If the Canadiens can force a Game 6 back in Montreal on Saturday, the Quebec government will allow 2,500 fans into the Bell Centre, which would be the first NHL crowd in this country since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

Toronto opened the scoring 1:27 into the second period when Nylander shovelled home his fourth goal in as many games in the series after taking a slick behind-the-back feed in tight from Galchenyuk on an odd-man rush.

Selected No. 3 overall by the Canadiens at the 2012 draft, a resurgent Galchenyuk has found a home with the Leafs – the fifth club he’s suited up for since Montreal dealt him to the Arizona Coyotes in 2018 for Max Domi.

Campbell stopped Eric Staal at the other end on the next shift before Joel Armia fanned on a great chance later in the period. The Leafs broke the other way with Galchenyuk saucering a pass to Spezza, who was robbed by Price in Game 3 and stopped on a breakaway in Tuesday’s first period, for the 37-year-old to bury his second of the series on a 2-on-1 at 12:28.

The North Division’s No. 1 seed, Toronto kept its foot on the gas, and Thornton made it 3-0 just 2:28 later on a power play when he redirected a Spezza feed at the side of Price’s net. At 41 years and 327 days, the veteran forward became the oldest Leafs player to record a playoff point, passing both Ron Francis the late Allan Stanley (both 41 years, 62 days).

Thornton also became the oldest Leaf to score in the post-season, passing Patrick Marleau (38 years, 222 days).

The goal was Toronto’s third with the man advantage in the series after finishing the regular season a dismal 5 for 73.

Montreal’s anaemic power play – 0 for 11 in the series after two failed man advantages in the first – got another opportunity late in the period, but Brendan Gallagher’s shot that beat Campbell clanked off the post.

The desperate Canadiens pushed to start the third, with Campbell blocking Gallagher’s tipped effort before smothering the rebound.

Thornton took a tripping penalty to give Montreal its fourth power play, but Campbell once again held the fort before Price kept his team alive with a stop on a Zach Hyman breakaway midway through the period.

A healthy scratch in Game 1, Galchenyuk iced it into the empty net to secure the first three-point playoff game of his career as the Canadiens now faces the daunting task of having to win three straight to keep their season alive.

The Leafs were minus captain John Tavares (concussion, knee) and forward Nick Foligno (lower-body injury), while defenceman Travis Dermott got the nod ahead of Rasmus Sandin, and centre Adam Brooks took Riley Nash’s spot.

Staal returned to the Canadiens’ lineup after missing Game 3, but Artturi Lehknonen, who left Monday’s contest in the first period, and Jake Evans, out for a third straight night, were both scratched.

Toronto got the game’s first chance when Spezza _ robbed by Price on a spectacular stick save in Game 3 _ moved in alone early, but was unable to beat the Montreal goaltender through the five-hole.

The Canadiens got those two man-advantage opportunities in the opening period’s latter stages. And while Montreal had better zone time and a couple decent looks, Campbell was never really threatened.

Ontario’s top doctor wants in-person schooling to resume before provincial reopening

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, May 26th, 2021

Ontario’s top doctor said Tuesday he would like to see students return to their classrooms before the province starts reopening in mid-June.

Dr. David Williams made the comments on the same day as a group of researchers studying the effects of the pandemic on children warned of “a generational catastrophe.”

Williams said most public health units in the province support the reopening of schools, which have been shut to in-person learning since early- to mid-April.

“My position has been always, like our public health measures table and our medical officers of health, that feel that schools should be the last to close and the first to open,” Williams told a news conference.

“Ideally, I’d like the schools open before we enter Step 1 of our exit strategy.”

Williams said he has heard from many public health agencies, including those in the hard-hit Toronto area, who want to see schools reopen.

Cases of COVID-19 continue to fall in the third wave of the pandemic while Ontario remains under a stay-at-home order. Vaccinations continue to surge with more than 8.2 million people receiving their first shot.

Williams said the situation is different now compared to when the province shuttered schools in early April.

“We’re confident that we can be supportive of making sure the schools are safe for everyone, including students and teachers and other staff working there,” Williams said.

Last week, the province faced fierce criticism for failing to address whether schools would reopen as it detailed how the rest of the economy would emerge from the stay-at-home order.

Tracy Vaillancourt, an education professor at the University of Ottawa who specializes in mental health research on children, wrote a letter to Premier Doug Ford and the province calling for the reopening of schools.

“We are on the cusp of a generational catastrophe,” Vaillancourt and 14 other researchers, who are part of a team working on a report about the effects of the pandemic on children, wrote.

“Our professional consensus is that these shutdowns have negatively affected all aspects of child development, that extend well beyond the classroom.”

There have been several reports, including from Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, that suggest mental health in children has declined during the pandemic.

Vaillancourt echoed those concerns, but also said schools offer much more than help for mental health afflictions. They allow some students to eat better and more consistently through various programs.

“We also recommend that we prioritize the safe reopening of all extracurricular activities like sports, and we work to ensure that they stay open,” Vaillancourt said.

Teacher unions said last week they support reopening schools, but wanted the province to address their concerns to make them safer.

Those concerns included smaller class sizes along with better testing and contact tracing.

William said he’d also be open to a regional approach to allow some school boards to return to in-person class sooner than others.

Williams says there will be a decision on schools soon.

Peel police rescue child locked in hot car in Mississauga, SVU investigating

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, May 26th, 2021

The Special Victims Unit is investigating after Peel police smashed the window of a car in a Mississauga parking lot to rescue a child locked inside on Tuesday afternoon.

Police say they received a 9-1-1 call shortly before 12:30 p.m. from the area of Derry and Dixie roads.

The child was found locked in a white, four-door car parked in a lot on Tranmere Drive and officers say the child was “in distress.”

The child was assessed by paramedics and then taken to hospital.

Const. Danni Martini said the child was conscious when found but their current condition is unknown at this time.

A witness from a nearby real estate business tells 680 NEWS that a baby was in the back seat of the car. A man who parked beside the car could hear the child crying and went door-to-door at a nearby building to find the child’s parents.

When he could not locate the parents, the woman says they took a hammer from her office and were on their way to break the car’s window when police arrived.

“There were a lot of members of the business community here that were getting very, very anxious, but police arrived and intercepted. They attempted to open the vehicle, couldn’t and used the hammer to break the glass … and rescue the baby,” said the witness.

One officer suffered minor injuries during the rescue.

It is too early in the investigation to say whether any charges will be laid against the child’s parents. No further details about the child or its parents have been released in order to protect the child’s identity.

Peel police say members of the public are encouraged to call 9-1-1 if they see a child or pet locked in a hot car as the weather gets warmer.

1st case of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine related death confirmed in Ontario

DILSHAD BURMAN | posted Wednesday, May 26th, 2021

Ontario has recorded its first case of an AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine-related death.

The province’s Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe announced Tuesday that a man in his 40s had died a few weeks after getting the first dose of the vaccine at the end of April.

While the investigation is still ongoing, Dr. Yaffe said the man had vaccine induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia or VITT at the time of his death – the rare blood clots associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“The risks associated with this vaccine are rare, but they are real,” she said, noting that those who received an AstraZeneca shot still made the right choice.

The death is the fifth fatal case of VIIT in an AstraZeneca recipient in Canada. Experts still maintain the syndrome is exceedingly rare and treatable in most cases.

The province is currently reporting 16 cases of thrombotic thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), of which, 13 meet the criteria for VITT.

Ontario paused the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine as a first dose on May 11 after administering nearly a million doses due to an increased risk of blood clots. The vaccine is currently being administered as a second dose only.

Those who received their first dose between March 10 and 19 became eligible to book their second dose on Monday.

The second shots are being moved up by about 2 weeks and being given at the 10 week mark rather than the recommended 12 weeks as the province rushes to use a stockpile of 45,000 doses set to expire in roughly a week.

Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Medical Officer of Health, said the difference in vaccine efficacy at 10 weeks as opposed to 12 weeks is negligible.

“We’re seeing now with some new data from the U.K. that people who get two doses, as [time] goes on, their immunity keeps getting stronger and stronger, approaching some of that equal to the mRNA vaccines,” he said. “So it’s not that it’s a hazard to get it earlier, it’s just that the data we have is that it may not be as beneficial. But the actual difference between 10 and 12 is not that large.”

He said “we wouldn’t mind you waiting for 12 weeks,” if possible, but since they have vaccines that need to be utilized before expiry, those who received their first shots during the initial AstraZeneca pharmacy pilot project in the Toronto, Kingston and Windsor areas are being prioritized for their second dose slightly earlier.

He said people should talk to their pharmacists about eligibility and some might have to wait the original 12 weeks after the province has used up the soon-to-expire vaccines.

“I understand there’s a bit of confusion there,” Williams said. “The good point is that we have lots of people who are looking eager to get their second dose.”

Approximately 90,000 people are eligible to receive their second AstraZeneca vaccine at the shortened 10-week interval, according to provincial data — about double the number of doses available.

A spokeswoman for the health minister said many pharmacies and doctors would reach out to patients directly, and asked people to only contact participating pharmacies listed on the province’s booking website.

The province has said those who got their first dose of AstraZeneca after March 19 will be able to book their second in the near future.

Another 10,000 doses of AstraZeneca expire next month and the province has more than 300,000 doses in stock.

With files from The Canadian Press

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