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Migrant workers hold virtual rally seeking full immigration status

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jun 15th, 2020

TORONTO — A group supporting migrant workers held a virtual rally Sunday that called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to immediately extend full immigration status for all non-permanent residents.

The event, sponsored by the Migrant Rights Network, featured a series of farm workers, caregivers, construction workers and others who expressed the difficulties of living through the COVID-19 pandemic without the government support given to Canadians.

Spokeswoman Sarom Rho says migrant workers are calling on Trudeau to live up to his promise to do better to fight racism.

Without emergency income supports provided to Canadian workers, she says, migrants are going hungry as they struggle to survive.

The activist group launched the one-day event by supporting efforts to defund, disarm and dismantle police over racist policies following recent deaths at the hands of police, including George Floyd.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 14, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Multi-vehicle crash sends 5 people to the hospital, SIU investigating

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Jun 15th, 2020

The province’s Special Investigations Unit is investigating a serious multi-vehicle crash that sent five people to hospital Sunday evening.

Police said they were called to the area of Sheppard Avenue East and Markham Road just after 8 p.m.

When emergency crews arrived, they found a vehicle on fire. Four vehicles were involved in the collision, police said.

Toronto EMS said four people had minor injuries, one person had moderate injuries.

There has been no word on what caused the collision.

The SIU is an arm’s length agency that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.

Body meant to root out systemic housing inequities delayed by pandemic

JORDAN PRESS, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jun 15th, 2020

OTTAWA — A key body the Liberals vowed to create to help resolve systemic inequities in Canada’s housing system remains unstaffed, with delays in appointments chalked up to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The national housing council and a related advocate were created, on paper, as part of the Liberal government’s decade-long housing strategy that was put into law last year.

Applications closed in mid-October but the positions hadn’t been filled by the time the pandemic struck Canada in mid-March.

An online notice from early April says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. still hopes to establish the council this year, but suggests a delay due to COVID-19.

The notice said the federal government was “focused on addressing this crisis” given the “uncertain and evolving circumstances related to COVID-19.” The notice added that appointing the council “remains a priority for the government.”

Two months later and with the backdrop of promises by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to address systemic racism and inequities in Canada, appointments have not been made.

Leilani Farha, global director of The Shift, a group that advocates for the right to housing, said the council and advocate could be playing a large role in how governments respond to the pandemic.

“You have a pandemic and your main policy to address the pandemic is (to say) ‘Stay home and wash your hands and physical distance.’ That is a housing remedy to a deadly virus, so wouldn’t it be top of mind and your first move to establish these two entities that are squarely looking at housing?” Farha said in an interview.

“It seems only logical to me.”

She said the importance of the council and advocate has only been heightened by Black Lives Matter protests raising awareness and calling for action on systemic racism facing Black communities and Indigenous people.

A spokeswoman for Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen said work is underway to establish the housing advocate’s office at the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Jessica Eritou said in a statement that the advocate’s work would focus on vulnerable groups, and those who have experienced homelessness to improve Canada’s housing laws, including “policies to make sure everyone has safe, suitable, and affordable housing which meets their needs.”

That’s effectively what housing advocates talk about when they discuss the “right to housing.”

Characterizing housing as a human right is meant to provide recourse, usually through tribunals, to anyone wrongfully denied a home for reasons such as ethnicity, religion, or gender identity and allow for watchdogs to conduct reviews to remove systemic barriers to housing.

MPs on a House of Commons committee last Monday were urged to make the right to housing, and dealing with systemic inequities, a key part of the next phase of the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tim Richter, president of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, told MPs during the virtual meeting that meaningful implementation of the right to housing, “to surface and resolve inequities in systemic or structural barriers” would have an economic boost by limiting housing need.

“As the private sector well knows, when you listen to your customers and respond to their needs, you get much more efficiency and better outcomes. This is at the heart of the right to housing,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 15, 2020.

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press

What do you really know about country music?

THE BIG STORY | posted Monday, Jun 15th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, most of us have a very specific image in our minds of what country music is. It shouldn’t be surprising—that’s how it’s been promoted and sold for decades.

But it wasn’t how the music was born. And it’s not representative of the artists who make it today, either. So what’s the real history of country music?

GUEST: Elamin Abdelmahmoud, Editor of News Curation, BuzzFeed; contributor, Rolling Stone

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

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Private school principal in Brampton charged with sexual assault of student

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Jun 12th, 2020

A 54-year-old man is facing charges following an investigation into allegations he sexually assaulted a student at a Brampton private school.

Peel Regional Police say Sanjiv Kumar, who also goes by the name Sanjiv Dhawan, is facing one count each of sexual assault and sexual exploitation.

The allegations involve a 16-year-old girl who attends the school where the accused was the principal.

Kumar has been released on bail and is scheduled to be back in court on Aug. 24.

Police are asking anyone with additional information to contact them.

Majority of Canadians say negative attitudes have increased towards Asian-Canadians: poll

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Jun 12th, 2020

More than half of Canadians believe negative attitudes have increased towards Asian-Canadians since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

According to the Abacus Data poll, 12 per cent of respondents said they felt resentful of people of Asian descent because of the coronavirus pandemic. The vast majority, 88 per cent, said no.

“A pretty significant number said that we see increase tensions towards, or negative sentiment towards the Asian community because of this,” said Bruce Anderson, Chairman of Abacus Data. “It’s another aspect of tensions between people of different races that we see right now.”

The Abacus Data survey randomly sampled 1,750 Canadian adults between June 5-10 and is considered accurate to within plus or minus 2.31 percentage points.

The novel coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China and has since spread across the globe resulting in over 7.7 million cases and more than 400,000 deaths.

The World Health Organization declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020.

Lockdowns in countries all around the world have been in effect since January with many beginning to lift restrictions.

In Canada, there are almost 100,000 COVID-19 cases with just over 8,000 deaths.

Asian-Canadians of all backgrounds have been seeing an increase in racially-motivated attacks across the country even prompting a response from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He said acts of hate, violence prejudice have no place in Canadian society during a press conference in May.

In Vancouver, there was a “staggering” increase in the number of hate-related and anti-Asian crimes in 2020, police said. There were at least 29 incidents reported as of May 22 with the alleged offences ranging from racial slurs and vandalism to assault.

Prior to the lockdown in Ontario, Toronto’s usually bustling Chinatown began to see a dramatic drop in business as early as late January when only two coronavirus cases had been reported in the country.

Canadian singer Bryan Adams also came under fire for comments posted on social media that many said were racist, saying he was contributing to anti-Chinese rhetoric surrounding the virus.


Michael Ford hospitalized after testing positive for coronavirus

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Jun 12th, 2020

Councillor Michael Ford has checked in to hospital after he tested positive for COVID-19.

A spokesperson from his office says Ford checked in to Humber River Hospital earlier today to have additional testing done, after experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

Ford’s office says the hospital is monitoring his status, but overall, he is feeling well.

The nephew of premier Doug Ford went into self-isolation at his home after receiving a positive test Tuesday morning.

More businesses to open outside Toronto and Hamilton regions today

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jun 12th, 2020

Most Ontario regions outside the Toronto and Hamilton area will be allowed to reopen more businesses on Friday.

The second stage of the province’s reopening includes restaurant patios, hair salons and swimming pools.

Meanwhile, the limit on social gatherings will increase from five to 10 provincewide, but people must still stay two metres away from anyone outside their own household.

Child-care centres across Ontario will also be allowed to reopen, but it’s not yet clear how many will be able to implement new pandemic safety measures immediately.

The current pandemic restrictions will stay in place for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas, which have a high concentration of COVID-19 cases.

Border regions such as Windsor-Essex, Lambton County and Niagara, as well as Haldimand-Norfolk, which has seen an outbreak among migrant workers, will also not move to Stage 2.

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