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Trudeau Liberals face confidence vote over proposed anticorruption committee

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Oct 21st, 2020

A dispute over the scope and composition of a House of Commons committee will come to a head Wednesday in a vote that could trigger a federal election in the midst of the second deadly wave of COVID-19.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has declared that the vote on a Conservative motion to create a special anticorruption committee will be a test of confidence in his minority Liberal government.

The Conservatives are willing to drop “anticorruption” from the name of their proposed committee but the intent remains the same: to create a disproportionately opposition-dominated committee to investigate the WE Charity affair and other issues the official Opposition maintains reek of the government funnelling pandemic-related funding to Liberal friends.

The motion would give the committee broad powers to call witnesses, including the prime minister and other ministers, and to demand documents on a range of issues, including the speaking fees earned by Trudeau’s mother and brother over the past 12 years.

The Liberals maintain the committee would amount to a time-consuming fishing expedition that would paralyze the government when it should be focused on helping Canadians get through the second wave of the pandemic.

They’ve proposed their own special committee to examine all government pandemic-related spending, including but not exclusively the WE affair and other matters the Opposition deems suspicious.

The Bloc Quebecois is planning to support the Conservative motion but NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh refused Tuesday to give a clear indication of what his party will do.

New Democrats have said they believe the Conservative motion is “over the top,” but they’ve also said the Liberal counter-proposal isn’t good enough — particularly since it calls for a Liberal chair rather than allowing an opposition member to preside.

Singh said Tuesday that making the issue a test of confidence is absurd and that his party won’t take part in a “farce” that gives Trudeau an excuse to force an election.

Should New Democrats abstain on today’s vote, the Liberals and combined Conservative and Bloc MPs would have an equal number of votes, 153 each. That would leave the three Green and two independent MPs to decide the fate of the government.

The dispute comes after the Liberals filibustered opposition attempts to revive their investigations into the WE affair at the Commons finance and ethics committees, whose probes were shut down when Trudeau prorogued Parliament in August.

The controversy revolves around the government’s decision last June to pay WE Charity $43.5 million to administer a now-cancelled student service grant program, despite Trudeau’s long-standing family ties to the organization.

Trudeau has said public servants recommended WE as the only group that could manage the program. He has nevertheless apologized for not recusing himself from the decision to involve WE, as has former finance minister Bill Morneau, who also has close family ties to WE.

Both Trudeau and Morneau are under investigation by the federal ethics commissioner for possible violations of the Conflict of Interest Act.

RECIPE: Chef Dev’s Cottage Cheese and Fresh Berry Trifle

Kyle Mack | posted Tuesday, Oct 20th, 2020

A nourishing breakfast with high-quality dairy protein is key to setting your foundation for the day, giving your body the energy and protein it needs to fuel the morning and prevent the mid-morning crash. Chef Devan is a member of the Breakfast Better Board, a group of chefs and nutritionists dedicated to supporting Ontarians establish healthy breakfast habits and together, we established five guidelines to ensure a healthy breakfast becomes a part of your morning routine.

Today, we are sharing Chef Devan’s Cottage Cheese and Fresh Berry Trifle!

For more information about the Breakfast Better Board guidelines and the complete breakfast recipes, ​check out www.breakfastbetter.ca

 

Chef Dev’s Cottage Cheese and Fresh Berry Trifle 

(26.5 g of Protein Total)

Ingredients:  

1 cup Cottage Cheese (24.5g)

1/3 cup of blueberries

1/3 cup of sliced strawberries

2 tbsp maple syrup

2 tbsp of toasted walnuts (2gs)

Instructions: 

1) Toast walnuts for 3-5 minutes on medium low heat until aromatic.

2) Layer half of the cottage cheese on the base of a serving dish. Top with blueberries.

3) Repeat with the rest of the cottage cheese, topping with sliced strawberries.

4) Drizzle with maple syrup and toasted walnuts. Serve chilled.

Trick-or-treating not recommended in hotspots this Halloween: Ontario’s top doctor

MICHELLE MORTON | posted Tuesday, Oct 20th, 2020

If you live in Ontario’s hotspots, Toronto, Peel, Ottawa, and York, and have been thinking about taking your kids door-to-door trick or treating — consider another way to celebrate Halloween.

That message from the province’s top doctor, Dr. David Williams, who announced public health advice for Halloween this year.

This advice comes the same day York Region begins its modified Stage 2 restrictions as the province continues to see rising new daily COVID-19 case numbers.

Canada is approaching the 200,000 COVID-19 case count, with Quebec, followed by Ontario, leading the numbers.

“As Ontarians begin to prepare for Halloween this year, I’d like to remind everyone to take extra precautions to ensure you are keeping yourself and your families safe,” Williams said.

Williams said given the high transmission of COVID-19 in the modified Stage 2 public health unit regions, door-to-door trick or treating is not recommended.

Instead, the province is recommending residents living in the hotspot regions to instead encourage kids to dress up and participate in virtual activities and parties, organize a Halloween candy hunt with people living in the same household, carving pumpkins, movie night, and to decorate front lawns.

Williams is also recommending that you check with your local municipality or public health unit for any additional advice or restrictions that may be in place.

RELATED: Restaurants near COVID-19 hotspots implement locals-only dining

“It is also critical that families not travel outside of their neighbourhood to celebrate Halloween,” Williams said.

Williams is also recommending Ontarians to avoid gatherings with people outside of their household, to stay home if you are feeling ill, or if you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19.

If you live outside the modified Stage 2 public health unit regions, and plan to go trick-or-treat, Williams recommends:

  • To only go out with members of your household.
  • Trick-or-treat outside.
  • Trick-or-treaters, and people handing out candy should wear a face covering, adding that a costume mask is not a substitute for a face covering, and shouldn’t be worn over a face covering because it may make it difficult to breathe.
  • Not congregate or linger at doorsteps and remember to line up two metres apart if waiting.
  • To avoid high-touch surfaces and objects.
  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly, or use hand sanitizer, whether collecting or handing out treats.
  • Not to leave treats in a bucket or bowl for children to grab and consider using tongs or similar tools to hand out treats.

 

“I would also like to remind everyone that we are in a second wave of COVID-19. There have been increases in cases in many areas across the province, and the percentage of people tested who get a positive result is going up,” Williams said.

“The severity of this second wave is in our hands. Through our collective efforts, we can change the outcome of this new outbreak,” he said.

RELATED: Two protests take over downtown Toronto Saturday

In order to protect your health and stop the spread of COVID-19, Williams is reminding you to continue following these actions:

  • Limit trips outside of you home, except for essential purposes.
  • Stay home if you feel ill or have mild symptoms.
  • Maintain physical distancing of at least two metres with those outside your household.
  • Wear a face covering indoors, and outdoors if physical distancing cannot be maintained, or if wearing one is required.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly.
  • Follow social gathering and organized public event limits.
  • Download the COVID Alert mobile app.
  • If you are concerned you were exposed to COVID-19, or have symptoms, take the online COVID-19 self-assessment.
  • Get tested if you have symptoms compatible with COVID-19, or if you have been advised of exposure by your local public health unit or through COVID Alert.

 

To find the nearest COVID-19 testing location to you, the province has it listed for you online.

Dance classes allowed to resume in modified stage 2 regions of Ontario

MICHAEL RANGER | posted Tuesday, Oct 20th, 2020

Dance studios in COVID-19 hotspots throughout the province are being given the all-clear to reopen their doors.

The decision was made with advice from the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Ministry of Health.

Studios were forced to close in Toronto, Peel Region, York Region and Ottawa under the Ford Governments modified stage 2 emergency orders. Almost 25,000 people signed a petition for indoor dance classes to be able to resume.

Sports Minister Lisa MacLeod says that dancers will be required to pre-register for classes and adhere to physical distancing guidelines.

1 in 4 Canadians say their mental health is worse than during first COVID-19 wave

CHRIS REYNOLDS, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Oct 20th, 2020

Canadians continue to experience mental health difficulties due to the pandemic, with one in four saying their stress level is higher than during the first COVID-19 wave, according to a new poll.

The online survey by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies found that only 19 per cent of Canadians say their mental health is better now than in March and April as infection rates tick up and autumn sets in.

However, about 54 per cent said their mental state is about the same as when the coronavirus first struck the country.

Participants cited concerns about the length and severity of the pandemic as their biggest source of anxiety, followed closely by social isolation and family health.

“If we cannot see extended family during the holidays and rekindle that positive energy that we get from family and friends, it might lead to a long winter,” said Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque.

“It’s almost like, when is this thing going to end?”

Still, the proportion of Canadians who peg their mental health at very good or excellent has remained fairly consistent since March, ranging between 35 and 46 per cent. Last week saw the percentage at 36, according to the survey.

“It’s amazing that we did not go through more peaks and valleys,” Bourque said. “The number is not that positive, but that trend line seems to be hanging on, as if it’s resilience.”

Canadians proved less upbeat than their American counterparts, of whom 24 per cent said their mental health had improved since the outbreak began while only 16 per cent felt worse off, despite high case numbers across swaths of the United States.

Virtually half of Americans surveyed said their mental health was very good or excellent, compared with about one in three Canadians.

“I think ideologically there’s a whole segment of America that’s … trying to downplay the pandemic,” Bourque said.

“Some Americans just seem to think it will just go away. The president himself promised a vaccine in the next few weeks, right?”

Conducted Oct. 16 to 18, the online poll surveyed 1,512 adult Canadians and 1,001 Americans. It cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.

Total number of COVID-19 cases in Canada passes 200,000

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Oct 20th, 2020

The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic pushed Canada’s total case count past the 200,000 mark on Monday as tougher health restrictions took effect in some regions facing a surge in infections.

The latest numbers from Saskatchewan lifted the national tally over the bleak milestone as the province reported 66 new cases of the novel coronavirus, though other provinces reported significantly more new cases.

The development came just over four months after Canada reached the 100,000-case threshold.

The bulk of the country’s case load has been concentrated in Ontario and Quebec, though numbers have been surging in much of the country in recent weeks.

The 200,000-case milestone isn’t all that significant in and of itself but it does provide an opportunity to examine how the country is doing in grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, said Barry Pakes, a public health and preventative medicine physician with the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health.

Canada saw its first confirmed case of COVID-19 in late January and marked 100,000 cases in mid-June, about five months later.

That it took almost as long to double the caseload to 200,000 suggests public health measures slowed the virus’s spread to some degree in that time, Pakes said.

“That’s not how infectious diseases work – they double, and they go straight up on an exponential line, and when we put in proper public health measures we’re able to dull that somewhat, so I think that’s a testament to what we’ve been doing so far,” he said.

At the same time, it’s crucial to remember that Canada is in the midst of a second wave of the pandemic, and milestones such as this one can sometimes serve as a reminder not to let our guard down, he said.

“The problem arises when we rest on our laurels and I think we shouldn’t do that, but I think we can be sort of hopeful that we won’t see some of the numbers and some of the really big societal effects that have been seen in the U.S. or Europe,” he said.

“But it does remain to be seen.”

Quebec continued to lead in new daily cases, reporting 1,038 cases and six more deaths Monday – the fourth consecutive day it has seen more than 1,000 new infections.

Ontario, meanwhile, reported 704 new cases and four new deaths.

The province has reinstated stricter health measures in four regions – Toronto, Peel Region, York Region and Ottawa – and Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s top doctor, recommended against traditional Halloween activities in those areas.

The tighter rules, which include closing gyms and movie theaters and barring indoor dining in restaurants or bars, kicked in for York Region on Monday but took effect earlier this month in the other three hot spots.

Williams said that when daily case counts began to rise again in September, the province predicted it would see new infections double every 10 to 12 days, which would have led to daily numbers in the 1,200 to 1,400 range by now. He noted that at the time, the City of Toronto also predicted seeing its cases double every six days if no additional steps were taken.

“Neither of us, fortunately, have seen that. Measures have been taken, they’ve dropped that down,” he said Monday.

The daily case numbers were slow to come down in the first wave but they did drop over time, “and I think we can do that again,” he said.

Manitoba reported 80 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, nearly two thirds of them in Winnipeg, as new restrictions on gatherings and businesses took effect in that city. The new rules limit gatherings to five people and force casinos and bars to close and will be reviewed in two weeks.

Meanwhile, the federal government announced Monday that limits on travel between Canada and the United States will remain in place until Nov. 21.

COVID-19 outbreaks declared at 2 Toronto hospitals, more than 30 affected

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Oct 19th, 2020

Two hospitals in the city core have declared outbreaks of COVID-19.

St. Joseph’s Hospital at 30 The Queensway and the University Health Network’s (UHN) Toronto Western Hospital located at 399 Bathurst Street are both reporting outbreaks of the disease within certain units.

In a statement, St. Joseph’s says they are “managing a significant number of confirmed COVID-19 cases” in four units at the hospital.

As of Sunday, there are a total of 29 people who are infected with the virus including 13 staff members. Of the 16 patients who have the virus, seven contracted the disease as part of the hospital outbreak.

The units affected are 3M, 4E, 2E and the 2L Medicine.

“We want to assure our community that St. Joseph’s is a safe place to receive care and emergency services,” said spokesperson Robyn Cox. “We have taken many measures to ensure this, including closing affected units to new admissions, further enhancing our cleaning and infection control procedures and implementing additional safety precautions for our staff, such as the mandatory use of face shields at all times in clinical spaces.”

St. Joseph’s says it will commence widespread testing of staff and patients in the coming days as well as implementing changes to its visitor policy.

Toronto Western Hospital says as of Oct. 15, two units – 8A and 8B – are seeing outbreaks of coronavirus. In a statement, the hospital says three patients and six staff members have tested positive for the virus as of Friday.

“There have been no additional positive swabs since that time. One unit – 8A cares for patients with the virus. The 9 cases above are presumed to be transmissions in hospital.”

UHN says their hospitals and emergency departments remain open and it’s safe to come to their facilities for medical care.

This is the second outbreak declared in both those units at Toronto Western in the last five months. The first outbreak outbreak occurred from April 28 to May 16. The hospital has not had an outbreak since June 5.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has also reported an outbreak at its Queen Street facility. They say two patients have tested positive for the virus on unit 1-4.

CAMH says they have implemented standard infection prevention and control procedures which includes closing the unit to admissions and transfers.

Man arrested after violently assaulting several pedestrians downtown

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Oct 19th, 2020

A 26-year-old Toronto man has been arrested after he threw a woman to the ground and assaulted several others in the downtown core Sunday morning.

Police say at around 9:15 a.m. a man walked into the intersection of Yonge and Dundas streets and struck the hood of a vehicle. He then proceeded eastbound on Dundas where he grabbed a woman and threw her to the ground.

The suspect then allegedly punched another man in the face before punching another man on a bicycle. He then assaulted several other people who attempted to intervene.

Diamond Ekanem is facing several charges including assault, causing a disturbance by fighting, shouting and swearing, and failing to comply with probation.

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