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City’s altered day camps start Monday

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Jul 13th, 2020

Children are heading to day camps on Monday as the City of Toronto launches CampTO amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Registration started last month to fill up the more than 32,000 spaces available for kids ages six to 12.

City-run summer camps will run over eight weeks at 150 locations. They include a variety of programs including dance, drama, music, arts and crafts and active games.

Approximately 68,000 summer camp registrations were cancelled in mid-May due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City said CampTO programs will meet health guidelines designed in consultation with Toronto Public Health and in alignment with provincial health guidelines for day camps. Guidelines include smaller groups and lower capacity, physical distancing, mandatory health screening and enhanced facility cleaning.

1 injured after 2 cars collide head-on near Church and Bloor

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Jul 10th, 2020

One person is in hospital after a two-vehicle crash in downtown Toronto.

Emergency crews were called to Church and Hayden streets south of Bloor Street just after 4:30 a.m. on Friday.

Two vehicles crashed head-on and one of the cars rammed into the corner of a building on the east side.

Paramedics rushed one female to hospital with serious injuries. They later said her injuries are no longer considered serious but minor.

Three other people were assessed at the scene.

Canada not ready for second wave of COVID-19, Senate committee says

ORDAN PRESS, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jul 10th, 2020

Canada is ill-prepared for a second wave of COVID-19, says a Senate committee, calling on the federal Liberals to deliver a plan by Labour Day to help people and communities hit hardest by the pandemic.

Seniors, in particular, are a focus of the report from the Senate’s social affairs committee, from those in long-term care homes to those with low incomes.

Just this week, the Liberals rolled out one-time special payments of $300 to the more than six million people who receive old-age security, and $200 more for the 2.2 million who also receive the guaranteed income supplement.

The income supports are meant to help seniors facing increased costs as a result of the pandemic, such as more frequent prescription fees and delivery charges for groceries.

Senators on the committee wrote of evidence of “financial insecurity and increased vulnerability” for low-income seniors as a result of the first wave of the novel coronavirus.

A potential second wave, which could coincide with the annual flu season that starts in the fall, would make the situation even worse for these seniors “without concrete and timely government action,” the report says.

Senators say the Liberals should deliver a plan to help low-income seniors, among other populations vulnerable to economic shocks like new immigrants, no later than the end of August, and contain short- and long-term options.

The report also says the federal government needs to pay urgent attention to seniors in long-term care homes where outbreaks and deaths in the pandemic have been concentrated.

The document made public Thursday morning is the committee’s first set of observations on the government’s response to the pandemic, with a final report expected later this year.

Before then, the Liberals are planning to provide another economic update like the one delivered Wednesday, or possibly a full budget. The government shelved plans to deliver one at the end of March when the House of Commons went on extended hiatus due to the pandemic.

The long-awaited economic “snapshot,” as the Liberals styled it, said federal spending is closing in on $600 billion this fiscal year. That means a deficit of $343 billion, fuelled by emergency pandemic aid that the government budgets at over $230 billion.

The Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada said the spending figures demand a “full and transparent assessment” to see what worked, what didn’t and what needs to change for an economic recovery.

Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, said the Liberals should take back up their promise to create a national pharmacare system as the government considers its next steps.

A federal advisory council last year calculated the cost of a program at over $15 billion annually, depending on its design.

“The last thing we want to have is Canadians in frail health as we’re dealing with this pandemic and I think the government really needs to think of that,” Yussuff said in an interview Wednesday.

“Had it not been for the health care system we have right now,” he added later, “think of how this country would have fared in this pandemic.”

The Senate committee’s report also notes the national emergency stockpile of personal protective gear like masks, gowns and gloves wasn’t managed well over the years, nor sufficiently stocked when the pandemic struck.

Committee members added concerns that military members could be deployed without sufficient personal protective equipment because of “inconsistencies from international procurement.”

Enforcement increased at 3 Toronto beaches due to weekend partying

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Jul 10th, 2020

The City of Toronto is increasing enforcement and restricting parking at three beaches due to late-night partying over the weekends amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City said it has seen a “significant increase” in the number of people who are visiting at night and not practising physical distancing, putting up DJ equipment, lighting bonfires, drinking, and leaving a lot of garbage behind.

The enforcement will be in place at Marie Curtis Park, Humber Bay West Park and Cherry Beach. Parking will also be restricted starting at 7 p.m. on Friday, and on Saturday and Sunday evenings.

“Bylaw officers and Toronto police will have a highly visible presence at beaches and parking lots, together with Toronto Fire, to ensure that crowds and bonfires and other prohibited activities, such as fireworks, do not occur or are dealt with quickly should they occur,” the City said in a release.

“Parking enforcement will also have a significant presence this weekend, with tagging and towing of illegally parked vehicles in the vicinity of beaches where parking is restricted.”

Parking access is already off-limits at Bluffers Park at 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Also, parking has been restricted at parks and beaches along the waterfront over the weekend to road closures for ActiveTO.

The City is reminding Torontonians that bonfires are not allowed in parks and beaches, as well as parties involving DJs or loud noise.

Mother of 2 killed in tragic accident as vehicle veers off elevated parking lot

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Jul 10th, 2020

A young mother of two was among two people killed in a bizarre accident in Vaughan on Thursday.

York police say a vehicle crashed through a fenced barrier and went over the edge of an elevated parking lot off of Keele Street near Rutherford Road around 1:30 p.m.

A young woman, described as a mother of two, was in the parking lot taking her lunch break when she was struck and killed.

The driver of the white SUV which ended up striking a pole on the other side of the road was taken to a trauma centre with no vital signs and pronounced dead. The second passenger in the vehicle was also taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Frank Caruso, who owns the company where the young woman worked, called it a heartbreaking tragedy.

“This morning I was with her and she was in a great mood, just in a great place in her life,” Caruso told reporters outside the business which manufactures furniture for hotels. “Her presence in the front office was amazing.”

“Everybody loved her. She was at the front desk in the reception area and everybody loved her.”

“She was such a bright light and always in a great mood and always happy. It’s just horrifying.”

Police say they are investigating all potential causes for the crash including the possibility that the elderly driver may have suffered a medical incident.

Police are asking anyone who may have dashcam footage of the incident or anyone who may have information on the driving behaviour of the vehicle prior to the collision to contact them.

Raptors VanVleet knows hardship small businesses face during pandemic

LINDSAY DUNN | posted Thursday, Jul 9th, 2020

The Toronto Raptors are on their way to Orlando Thursday but fan-favorite Fred VanVleet has Canada in his heart and on his mind. He ventured into the small business world a few years ago as he is one of many of the Raptors who have their own clothing line. Even though he isn’t in Toronto he is encouraging people to support small businesses in their community during the pandemic.

“I own my own small business so it definitely hits home for me,” VanVleet told CityNews from Florida. “I know what it takes to run a small business. I know the challenges that come with that, the hustle and drive that you have to have to keep up. It’s so important for me to spend, and to shop small. It’s something that I just live every day, it’s is something I believe in.”

VanVleet recently teamed up with American Express for their Shop Small campaign and even though he hasn’t been in Toronto in a few months, he wants to make sure the city is taking care of each other.

“That’s one of the things I love about Toronto’s is the small businesses and you know, it just gives the city a culture and a vibe. Because of the year that we’ve had 2020 hasn’t been kind to anybody. I’ve seen personally, how Canada and especially Toronto, come together, we saw last year when we won.”

“One of the most incredible moments of my life was that parade. And just the people celebrating so if I can try to get some of that energy going with the people and encourage people to shop small and to spend the money with businesses that they love. They can recirculate those funds and get the economy going and help people that are in need and these business owners, you know, have probably taken a big hit this year.”

There is one place, in particular, he has been missing in Toronto.

“I really miss my barber right now,” VanVleet said with a laugh. “Shout out to my barber Brian at Throne Barbershop, I’ve been missing him since I haven’t been able to be in Toronto for almost four months now.”

Before flying to Florida, the 26-year-old was in self-quarantine with his girlfriend and their two kids. He admits it was the longest he has ever been at home since he was a kid.

“It was nice. I was able to be there all day every day, every second. I got to help with the baths and the lunches and putting them to bed. We got a lot closer over that time which made it even hard to leave.”

The Raptors were in the Fort-Meyers – Naples, Florida area for the last two weeks before immersing themselves in the NBA Bubble in Orlando, where they hope to defend their title. During that time his teammate Kyle Lowry didn’t speak to the media and no photos were taken of the veteran NBA All-Star.

“No comment, no comment, I can’t comment on his whereabouts,” VanVleet joked. “He’s here, no worries. Raptors fans will be happy when they see him lace-up with us.”

The Raptors will host the Los Angeles Lakers when their season resumes in Orlando on August 1st.

Police make two more arrests in shooting death of Toronto woman

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Jul 9th, 2020

Police have made two more arrests in connection with the shooting death of a Toronto woman back in March.

Two women were found with gunshot wounds in a home on Murray Avenue in the area of Brimley Road and Sheppard Avenue East on the morning of March 13.

Theepa Seevaratnam, 38, died in hospital of a gunshot wound to the chest. The second victim suffered non-life threatening injuries.

On Tuesday, police arrested Gary Samuels, 27, of Oshawa and Vijendran Balasubramaniam, 42, of Toronto and have charged each of them with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

Steadley Kerr, 28, was originally arrested by police at the end of March and charged with second-degree murder and attempted murder. Those charges are expected to be upgraded to first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and attempted murder when he makes his next court appearance on July 23.

Inside the world of contact tracing

THE BIG STORY | posted Thursday, Jul 9th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, if Canada is going to keep COVID-19 under control, contact tracing and tracking will have to play a huge part in it. You hear about contact tracing in every interview or article about controlling the virus—but how does the process actually work?

Who are the people tasked with the often difficult job? How do they deal with people who are scared or angry to hear from them? How many cases can be missed before an outbreak looms? And as Canada prepares for a second wave…do we have enough of them to handle what’s coming?

GUEST: Aaron Hutchins, Maclean’s

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

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