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Maple Leafs clinch playoff berth with win over Canadiens

NEWS STAFF AND SPORTSNET STAFF | posted Thursday, Apr 29th, 2021

The Toronto Maple Leafs booked their ticket to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the fifth straight year following a 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday.

Heading into the game, Toronto needed a regulation win to clinch a playoff spot after the Ottawa Senators earned a regulation victory over the Vancouver Canucks earlier in the day.

Goals from William Nylander, Auston Matthews, Jake Muzzin and Adam Brooks lifted Toronto over Montreal, who got a lone tally from Nick Suzuki. Matthews’ goal gave him 35 on the season, leaving him atop all NHL goal-scorers in 2020-21.

Leafs winger Joe Thornton, who set the record as the oldest player in franchise history to score when he found the back of the net Saturday, helped set up Muzzin’s goal to become just the seventh player in league history to register 1,100 career assists.

Thornton joined Wayne Gretzky (1,963), Ron Francis (1,249), Mark Messier (1,193), Ray Bourque (1,169), Jaromir Jagr (1,155) and Paul Coffey (1,135) as the only players in NHL history to crack 1,100 assists.

With the win, the Maple Leafs remain atop the North Division with 67 points. They will now try to wrap up their first division title in 21 years.

Toronto have earned a post-season berth in each year since 2016-17, Matthews’ debut season, but have yet to make it out of the first round.

The Leafs and fourth-place Canadiens – set to go head-to-head three more times before the end of the regular season – look poised to meet in the playoffs for the first time since 1979.

Toronto will now turn its immediate attention towards a two-game series at home beginning Thursday against the Vancouver Canucks, while Montreal, which remains six points up on the Calgary Flames for the North’s final post-season berth, hosts the Winnipeg Jets on Friday before the Ottawa Senators come to town Saturday.

Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report

Netflix chooses Toronto as location for its corporate office in Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Apr 28th, 2021

Netflix has chosen Toronto as the spot for its previously announced Canadian corporate office.

A publicist for the California-based streaming giant told The Canadian Press Tuesday the company will post a content executive job for the new office in June.

Netflix said in February it planned to open an office in this country but was still figuring out the location.

It had been eyeing Toronto and Vancouver, since the streamer shoots several productions in both markets.

Toronto is also where Netflix set up a production hub two years ago when it leased studio spaces along the city’s waterfront.

A representative from the company said Toronto made sense for a variety of reasons, including a plethora of talent, partners and international festivals in the city.

The representative said Netflix hasn’t chosen an exact location and hopes to set up an interim office this summer before establishing a permanent shop, in accordance with COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.

Netflix adds it expects 10 to 15 employees will be based in Toronto. The first hiring priority is the content executive, who will work directly with creators on ideas and pitches for films and series.

Job postings for other Toronto positions will be announced on the careers section of its website.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said Netflix spends over $200 million a year shooting shows in the city.

“In very difficult times, this is the kind of news that gives people in this city, and gives the city as a whole, hope,” Tory told reporters Tuesday.

Toronto’s film and television production industry “is second to none anywhere in the world,” Tory said, and he believes the new Netflix location will “become the second-biggest office next to the head office.”

“They’re on notice that we’re going to grow this office and it’s going to be a powerhouse office before too long and really cement our position yet again with this company, and others who will follow, as the place in Canada to make film and television productions,” Tory said.

Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos said in an interview in February the move was “a big first step” toward content creation in Canada.

He said adding an office in Canada would allow Netflix executives to be closer to Canadian creators, so they could build relationships and field pitches.

“As we grow our business and presence all across Canada, we’re excited that Toronto will be our first local office,” Sarandos added Tuesday in a statement.

“We’re looking forward to opening our doors and building on the great work we’ve started with our creative partners to bring more Canadian artists and stories to the world.”

Netflix has 21 offices around the world, in cities including Amsterdam and Rome.

The company recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary in Canada and has seven million Canadian subscribers.

Sarandos said since 2017, Netflix has spent $2.5 billion on production in Canada, on titles including the Toronto-shot “The Umbrella Academy” and the Vancouver-filmed series “Firefly Lane,” which is currently their No. 1 show in the world.

Other Netflix programming shot in Canada includes “Virgin River” in British Columbia, “The Adam Project” in Vancouver and “Locke & Key” in Toronto.

Kia Nurse ready to make her mark with new WNBA team

Lindsay Dunn | posted Wednesday, Apr 28th, 2021

They were the team that drafted her and now, the team that is giving her the first taste of being traded.

Canada’s Kia Nurse had her name called by the New York Liberty in the 2018 WNBA Draft, beginning her journey in the league. Fast forward two years later and she is now a member of the Phoenix Mercury.

“I didn’t expect it to come but I had a feeling something was happening,” Nurse told CityNews after the trade in February.

The Liberty dealt her in a three-team trade that saw her end up in Phoenix with WNBA vets Skylar Diggins-Smith and Diana Taurasi.

“There is so much for me as a youngin’ that I can learn from them,” said Nurse.

This week, the WNBA opened training camp where Nurse was able to get advice from Taurasi and Diggins-Smith about developing her game.

“I asked them about what they have found success in and how they have got themselves out of shooting slumps every once in a while and they have been really great in between plays to help me with little things,” Nurse said from camp.

Nurse is just one of a handful of Canadians playing in the WNBA the season with two of her Team Canada teammates Bridget Carlton and Natalie Achonwa, who play for the Minnesota Lynx.

Nurse believes that with the leadership and talent on the Mercury, no team will be able to stand in their way of the championship this year. “I think we have a top team for sure.”

Last year, the 12 teams played a condensed season in a bubble like the NBA scenario in Florida because of the pandemic. This year will also be unique as some players, including Kia, will be leaving their teams to compete in the Olympics.

“This is going to be another one of those unprecedented times. It will be different then what we saw in the bubble just because we are in market and we are traveling but you have to add in the fact that there are the Olympics and that some of us that will be leaving in the middle of the season to just leave and go play for another team and just come back,” said Nurse.

The WNBA Season will tip-off in its 25th year on May 14.

Quebecer dies from blood clot after getting COVID-19 vaccine

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Apr 28th, 2021

MONTREAL – A Quebecer has died due to a blood clot after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Quebec’s public health director, Dr. Horacio Arruda, made the announcement during the government’s Tuesday health update.

The woman who died was 54 years old.

Reports indicated she was from the Monteregie-South Shore region of Montreal, but Arruda wouldn’t confirm those details citing privacy reasons.

This is the first Canadian to die after this shot.

Health officials across Canada have maintained that these cases are incredibly rare and the benefits of getting the vaccine far outweigh the risks.

“What I regret is the story of this woman, I think if we could have prevented [this] if we knew that she was going to do it, we wouldn’t have given her the vaccine. But it’s impossible,” said Arruda.

“But I don’t regret [it] because we are sure we are preventing more deaths and complications of the disease, even with that vaccine.”

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube says the province is currently investigating four cases of serious complications out of some 400,000 people who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“This is very sad but I don’t think it changes the program at all,” said Dube.

“In fact, we were expecting to have these complications with a certain number–it is within the number of persons that could be affected, we are in that number. That’s very unfortunate and we are sad about it, but that’s the price of vaccination.”

Dube says the government has been very clear about the risks associated with the COVID-19 vaccines, which was reiterated when the province opened up eligibility for the AstraZeneca vaccine to include those 55 years old and younger.

“I think that’s the price to pay to be vaccinated and to be going back to a normal life at one point in time,” he said.

Currently, the province is offering the vaccine to Quebecers between the ages of 45 and 79, and Arruda says there are no plans to change that strategy.

80 Canada Post employees self-isolating after COVID-19 outbreak declared at Gateway location

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Apr 28th, 2021

Around 80 Canada Post employees and contractors are self-isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared at the Gateway West facility in Mississauga.

Peel Public Health has ordered the Shift 3 employees (the afternoon shift) within the Toronto Exchange Office at 4567 Dixie Road to leave the workplace and self-isolate for 10 days.

In the last seven days, Canada Post says 12 employees who work in the location have tested positive for COVID-19.

The crown corporation says they continue to provide on-site rapid COVID-19 testing and paid leave provisions are in place for any employees who have to self-isolate.

The Toronto Exchange Office is where inbound international mail items arrive are reviewed and cleared by the Canadian Border Service Agency and customers can expect some delays as contingency plans are implemented.

The Gateway location was previously hit by a massive COVID-19 outbreak back in January in which over 200 employees tested positive.

Peel Public Health has already ordered the partial closure of seven businesses since the implementation of their Section 22 order, including two Amazon fulfillment centres and a Brampton Canadian Tire distribution centre.

Police investigate stabbing near Borough Drive and Progress Avenue

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Apr 27th, 2021

Toronto police say they are investigating after a man in his 40s was stabbed in Scarborough Monday evening.

Police said they were called at around 7:15 p.m. to the Progress Avenue and Borough Drive area for a report of a fight in a mall parking lot.

Investigators said the victim left the scene before police arrived, but was later found in a car on the side of Highway 401 after he called 911 to ask for help.

It is not known if the victim was the driver, police said.

He was transported to the hospital in serious, but non-life-threatening condition.

Police said they are searching for a suspect described as male and possibly in his late teens. He was seen wearing a black jacket, blue jeans and was holding a large kitchen knife.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the police directly. Tips can also be left anonymously with Crime Stoppers.

No election yet as Liberal minority government survives third budget confidence vote

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Apr 27th, 2021

OTTAWA — With the help of the NDP, Justin Trudeau’s minority Liberal government has survived the last of three confidence votes on its massive budget.

The House of Commons approved Monday the government’s general budgetary policy by a vote of 178-157.

Liberals were joined by New Democrat MPs in voting for the budget, in accordance with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s vow not to trigger an election in the midst of a deadly third wave of COVID-19.

Conservative, Bloc Quebecois and Green MPs voted against the budget.

Votes on the budget are considered confidence matters; had all opposition parties voted against it, the government would have fallen, plunging the country into an election.

The government survived two other confidence votes on the budget last week, on Conservative and Bloc Quebecois amendments to the budget motion.

The budget, introduced last week, commits just over $100 billion in new spending to stimulate the economic recovery, on top of an unprecedented, pandemic-induced deficit of $354 billion in the 2020-21 fiscal year.

The government must eventually introduce a budget implementation bill, which will also be a matter of confidence.

Prime Minister Trudeau last week insisted the big-spending budget is not a launching pad for an election. He would not rule out an election this year, noting that he leads a minority government and saying it will be “up to Parliament to decide when the election is.”

While that sounded like Trudeau doesn’t intend to pull the plug himself on his government, it didn’t preclude the possibility that the Liberals could try to orchestrate their defeat at the hands of opposition parties. Nor did it preclude the possibility that Trudeau could at some point claim that a dysfunctional minority Parliament requires him to seek a majority mandate.

Some Liberal insiders believe Trudeau may pull the plug this summer, provided that the pandemic is relatively under control and vaccines are rolling out smoothly.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 26, 2021.

13-year-old Brampton girl dies after contracting COVID-19

MICHAEL RANGER | posted Tuesday, Apr 27th, 2021

Funds are being raised for the funeral of a 13-year-old Brampton girl who is one of the youngest Canadians to die after contracting COVID-19.

Emily Viegas died on April 22, just days after first exhibiting symptoms and five days after testing positive for the virus.

Her father told the Globe and Mail her symptoms started as a persistent cough, then she had trouble breathing and eventually could not stand on her own. Days later she was rushed to hospital after he family found her unresponsive in her bed.

She was pronounced dead hours later after several attempts to resuscitate her. Doctors said she had pneumonia in addition to COVID-19.

Mayor Patrick Brown tweeted his condolences on Sunday.

“This is beyond heart wrenching,” said Brown. “As a parent, I am lost for words. Horrifying. We can never underestimate the seriousness of COVID-19 and the variants.”

Premier Doug Ford released the following statement on Monday.

“My heart absolutely breaks for this family. I can’t imagine the unbearable pain and sorrow they are feeling right now. It’s heart-wrenching and a devastating reminder of what this virus can do. On behalf of all Ontarians, I’m sending my deepest condolences to everyone who is suffering from the terrible loss of this young life.”

According to the Globe and Mail, Emily lived in an apartment in Brampton with her parents and her brother. Her brother and mother are also sick with the virus and her mother remains in the hospital. Her father has received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

GoFundMe page was setup shortly after Viegas’s death to help cover her funeral and burial costs and has already quadrupled the initial goal of $10,000.

Parts of Brampton have been among some of the hardest hit communities in the entire country throughout the pandemic. The city currently has a test positivity rate of approximately 22 per cent, the highest in Ontario.

Severe COVID-19 cases for younger Canadians have been extremely rare. Out of the over 200,000 people under 19 infected with the virus there have been 142 who have been admitted to the ICU.

As of the latest provincial numbers, there are currently 2,126 people in the hospital with COVID-19 and 851 in the ICU.

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