Posts Tagged "covid 19"


City of Toronto staff returning to the office on Jan. 4, civic centres to reopen – Toronto |

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Toronto City Hall and other civic buildings will reopen on Jan. 4, says Toronto Mayor John Tory.

Staff will return to work at their respective workplaces beginning Jan. 4 for three days a week. Returning city staff are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, said Tory.

“While office staff who have worked from home account for approximately 25 per cent of the City’s overall workforce of almost 33,000, 75 per cent of City staff have never worked from home and have been working throughout the pandemic, and continue to work on the front lines,” states a news release.

Read more:
City of Toronto will require all employees to have both COVID-19 vaccine shots by Oct. 30

At City Hall, the public will be able to access the lobby, washrooms, library, first floor counter services, and attend scheduled meetings with city councilors.

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“By re-opening our buildings and bringing back our fully vaccinated office staff, the City of Toronto is leading by example and encouraging other employers to do the same,” Tory said.

“City staff have laid out a safe and cautious return to office plan and will continue to monitor the pandemic day by day. I am confident that this safe and responsible return to the office at the City and at major employers over the coming weeks will help ensure that Toronto comes back stronger than ever.”

Read more:
More than 500 City of Toronto staff on unpaid suspension for not complying with vaccination policy

This news comes as a new variant, named Omicron by the World Health Organization, was detected in Ontario.

Tory said despite that development, the city needed a plan with a firm date to give employees sufficient notice. However, the decision was made in consultation with local health officials and took account high vaccination rates and compliance into account.

“Between now and [Jan. 4] we will continue to implement the plan carefully and responsibly, but we will be watching every single day,” Tory told reporters. “At no time would we ever consider doing anything that was contrary to the best interests of the health of our own employees … We have almost 100 per cent of them vaccinated.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


COVID-19: Ages 12+ require vaccine proof to use London indoor recreation – London |

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Beginning Sunday, Oct. 31, proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be required for anyone age 12 or older entering London’s sports or recreation facilities.

This includes participating in, coaching, officiating or watching organized sport.

The City of London says children under the age of 12 are not required to show proof of vaccination.

Read more:
COVID-19: London, Ont., councillors review vaccine policy for city staff

Individuals entering an indoor area at City community centres, arenas and indoor aquatics facilities are exempt from showing proof of vaccination for the following purposes:

  • to use a washroom
  • to access an outdoor area that can only be accessed through an indoor route
  • to make a retail purchase
  • while placing or picking up an order
  • while paying for an order
  • to purchase admission

Patrons who provide written documentation, completed and supplied by a physician or registered nurse, stating that the individual is exempt for a medical reason from being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will also be exempt.

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Read more:
London, Ont. mayor files complaint after councillor speaks at anti-vaccine mandate rally

Fully vaccinated visitors will need a receipt of vaccination along with a piece of ID to access City programs and facilities.

All Middlesex-London Health Unit guidelines and provincial regulations, including mask requirements, adhering to capacity limits and physical distancing, remain in place when accessing City programs, services and facilities.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


‘We can hardly keep up’: Education key to combat human trafficking, experts say

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More education in human trafficking is needed across Canada to combat the growing issue, which has been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, experts say.

Julie Jones, a former police detective, human trafficking investigation specialist and founder of Human Intelligence Services Inc., said people often don’t know how to identify human trafficking, even when experiencing it themselves.

“The most important aspect of trafficking today is grooming and how it’s done,” she said. “It’s all about manipulation and coercive control because, as is also common in domestic violence cases, people often don’t realize that they’re in an abusive situation until they become dependent on their abuser, are removed from their support network and can’t get out.”

To address the need for more awareness, the Joy Smith Foundation officially launched Canada’s first online education centre this week.

The platform offers online courses on human trafficking prevention and intervention, and provides lessons for children, parents, teachers, social workers, first responders and judges to aid in their understanding of the crime, how to identify it and how to intervene.

Smith, who was a member of Manitoba’s legislature and a member of Parliament, founded the organization in 2011. She said the pandemic has pushed youth online, making it much easier for predators to find and groom victims, but that shift also created a space for connection and conversation, which was the inspiration behind the foundation’s platform.

“There aren’t enough police officers, social workers or citizens who know how perpetrators work, and some of them don’t even know human trafficking still exists in Canada,” she said. “We can hardly keep up, which is why we are thrilled about (creating) online education programs that are accessible to all Canadians.”

Statistics Canada and the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking both released reports this year showing an upward trend in human trafficking in Canada.

The latest data from Statistics Canada shows police reported 511 incidents of human trafficking in 2019, a 44 per cent increase from the previous year and the highest rate since comparable data became available in 2009.

Ontario cases represented 62 per cent of Canadian cases in 2019. Nova Scotia reported the highest rate per capita, almost double the national rate.

The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking launched a hotline in May 2019 to connect callers to local supports and services. In its first year, it said it identified 415 human trafficking cases.

While the latest available data only accounts for the first three months of the pandemic, Julia Drydyk, the centre’s executive director, said lockdowns and border closures had no impact on reducing the size of the commercial sex market and had “absolutely no impact in reducing human trafficking” in Canada.

Recent data from the centre shows that COVID-19 also had a major impact on social services the victims rely on to escape trafficking, citing that about one in five service providers who responded to its survey indicated they weren’t able to offer any or all of their services at the beginning of the pandemic.

“From a response perspective — and this has really only come more to light because of the pandemic — the real challenge is how the support sector is funded,” Drydyk said.

She said operators of the programs are often unsure if they’ll received continued funding and they are so busy making a business case for financial support that they can’t focus on helping survivors.

“It also means that we’ve got a patchwork of services across the country that has a lot of holes.”

Drydyk said the new education platform will play a key role in preventing future trafficking victims and provide the framework and accessibility to reach those who are being lured.

“The level of education awareness in Canada is so incredibly low and far from where we need to go,” she said. “The more people understand, the more it can trigger a reality that they or someone that they know might have experienced human trafficking.”

Jones, the former police officer and a digital and mobile forensics specialist, said one of the biggest issues facing law enforcementis technology, which is playing a larger role in trafficking cases, something not fully understood by the general public. For example, she said the advent and popularity of social media sites like OnlyFans can create opportunities for exploitation.

“There are often exploitative types of behaviour that start when women or girls feel like they’re in control but it then creeps into vulnerability for human trafficking,” she said. “I’ve worked with a lot of people who don’t realize they were being trafficked or exploited until long afterward.”

She said a person doesn’t have to be physically moved to meet the definition of trafficking, though that does still happen in Canada.

“People can be trafficked and still be going about their everyday life. Recognizing exploitation and the different forms and modalities is the key to educating people about human trafficking,” she said.

The National Human Trafficking Education Centre officially launched on Thursday with a virtual event, which included endorsements from survivors, police officers and community leaders from across the country.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 30, 2021.


This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.


Briercrest College down to 55 active COVID-19 cases, will continue with weekly testing |

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Briercrest College and Seminary in Caronport, Sask., is now down to 55 active COVID-19 cases among staff and students.

Read more:
Briercrest College reports 62 active COVID-19 cases

On Monday, it reported 62 active cases.

According to an update posted on Briercrest’s website, 43 students and 12 staff members have COVID-19 as of Wednesday.

Don Taylor, dean of the college and provost, said Briercrest will continue with weekly testing provided by the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

“We’re going to have our staff and students continuing to test until we can get down to zero,” Taylor told Global News.

Read more:
COVID-19 surge in Saskatchewan straining health-care system

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Students who can’t self-isolate on their own, such as students living in dorms with communal washrooms, have access to private apartments on campus.

“We’ve put a great deal of institutional effort into caring for our students. We have staff (and) volunteers who are delivering meals to the recovery area. We have counselling services that are available free of charge to students. We have health-care staff checking on our students,” Taylor added.

Classes are also being livestreamed to isolating students. Tutors and academic coaches are also helping students.

“Even our student government has been delivering goodie bags. We really are working carefully to make sure students have a successful educational semester as best as we can through this health-care crisis.”

Read more:
Ottawa offers military aid as Alberta battles brutal COVID-19 surge

Taylor believes Briercrest is past the “big wave” of students who contracted COVID-19 and the school is working to bring those numbers down.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


COVID-19: City to require proof of vaccination at select indoor rec centres, programs in London – London |

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Starting Wednesday, Londoners looking to access select municipal recreation facilities and programs will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and provide proof of their vaccination status in order to do so.

Proof of full immunization, in the form of a vaccine receipt, will be needed to access select services and programs at city-owned community centres, arenas and indoor aquatics facilities, the city says.

The change comes as part of the province’s previously announced vaccine certificate system, which takes effect on Wednesday, Sept. 22.

Read more:
New details released on Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine certificates, non-compliance fines start at $750

The new system will require Ontarians to show their vaccine receipt as well as a piece of government ID in order to access indoor areas of higher-risk settings, like gyms, restaurants, bars, event spaces and more.

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Vaccine receipts were issued by email at the time of one’s second dose, however, receipts can be downloaded or printed from the province’s website. Those without access to a computer, internet, or printer can call 1-833-973-3900.

As of Oct. 22, residents will receive a QR code that will serve as proof of vaccination, which businesses can scan using a government app.

The city says children 12 and under, who are not currently eligible to get the vaccine, are exempt from the vaccination requirement to access facilities.

An exemption is also included for those 12 to 17 who are going into a facility “only if they are entering for the purpose of actively participating in an organized sport.”

The policy also doesn’t apply to people entering an indoor area for the sole purposes of using a washroom, accessing an outdoor area that can only be accessed through an indoor route, making a retail purchase, making or picking up an order,  paying for an order, purchasing admission, or “as may be necessary for the purposes of health and safety,” the city says.

There is also a medical exemption for patrons who have a written document that was “completed and supplied by a physician or registered nurse stating that the individual is exempt for a medical reason from being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and the effective time-period for the medical reason.”

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–with files from The Canadian Press

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


Allow vaccine passport exemptions or face legal challenge, group warns B.C. government

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A Calgary-based legal foundation has threatened to take the B.C. government to court if officials refuse to allow medical and religious exemptions to the province’s COVID-19 vaccine passport system.

The Canadian Constitution Foundation, which previously supported a failed legal challenge of the province’s public health-care system, announced this week that it’s preparing litigation on behalf of individuals who will be temporarily excluded from non-essential activities such as dining in restaurants and going to the gym when the passport system takes effect later this month.

In an open letter sent to B.C. Premier John Horgan, Health Minister Adrian Dix and Attorney General David Eby on Tuesday, the group described the impact the system will have on unvaccinated individuals as “unwarranted and extreme.”

“The vaccine passport policy prevents people who are unable to get vaccinated for medical reasons or reasons of religion or conscience from participating in public life,” it reads. “A failure to create an exemption or accommodation for these individuals is a violation of their Section 15 Charter-protected right not to be discriminated against on the basis of disability or religion.”

The foundation, which is a registered charity in Canada and named as a partner of the U.S.-based Atlas Network, which supports hundreds of right-leaning think tanks around the world, also suggested the government should exempt everyone with a non-religious but “sincerely held” belief that prevents them from getting the vaccine.

It’s unclear how a passport system would function if those individuals were to exempted as well.

Christine Van Geyn, the group’s litigation director, told CTV News the foundation hasn’t decided what relief it will be seeking from the courts, and might request that the passport system be struck down entirely.

If the litigation does go forward, she said the CCF will likely be focusing on medical exemptions.

“Our preference is not to litigate. We would like to see the government make accommodations to people,” Van Geyn added, pointing to medical exemptions already being promised in other provinces. “If Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia can do it, why can’t B.C.?”

B.C. health officials have previously said there will be no exemptions to the proof-of-vaccination requirement, which is being phased in on Sept. 13 and expected to remain in place until the end of January. Officials hope that COVID-19 transmission, which surged over the summer as the highly contagious Delta variant spread across Canada, will be under control by then.

“This is a temporary measure that’s getting us through a risky period where we know people who are unvaccinated are at a greater risk, both of contracting and spreading this virus,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said last month.

“Those rare people who have a medical reason why they can’t be immunized … they will not be able to attend those events during this period.”

While unveiling the details of the government’s plan on Tuesday, Henry stressed that grocery stores and essential services will remain available to everyone who hasn’t been vaccinated for any reason.

She also noted there will be some options for those who are temporarily impacted, such as ordering takeout from restaurants instead of dining in.


Federal leaders face off in French-language debate

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With leaders of the five major federal parties going head-to-head in Wednesday’s official French-language debate, is providing real-time analysis.

Topics include: Accessibility, climate, leadership and accountability, reconciliation with the Indigenous people, and post-pandemic recovery

Watch the debate live in our video player above from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. EDT, and follow our reporter blog below.


Catch up on what happened during the French-language debate

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Leaders of the five major federal parties went head-to-head in Wednesday’s official French-language debate, provided real-time analysis.

Topics included: Accessibility, climate, leadership and accountability, reconciliation with the Indigenous people, and post-pandemic recovery

Watch a recap of the debate in our video player above and read input from our reporter blog below.


B.C.’s vaccine passport will ‘ostracize’ people who can’t get the shot, says lawyer

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When the province announced B.C.’s new COVID-19 vaccine passport, Leigh Eliason was stunned.

“I’m sad. I’m sad for what this has become,” she said.

The 41-year-old Maple Ridge woman has complex health issues, including an autoimmune disease called neuro vestibular dysfunction. At its worst, she says, the illness left her bedridden for more than a year.

She’s doing much better now but says with no vaccine studies on people with her condition, she’s worried getting the COVID-19 shot could trigger severe symptoms.

“I’m not an anti-vaxxer. I’m pro-body autonomy and my choice for myself is I’m not comfortable,” she said.

Beginning Sept. 13, proof of vaccination will be required to go to restaurants, gyms, concerts and other ticketed events. There are no exceptions.

“These new measures will help reduce transmission and keep our communities safer,” Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer said on Monday.

But for Eliason, the changes mean she won’t be able to watch her daughter on stage.

“I’m devastated I’m going to miss seeing my daughter perform,” she said.

Human rights lawyers say they are hearing from many people who can’t get vaccinated for medical reasons.

“The people that we’re hearing from at the Human Rights Clinic are people with allergies to components of the vaccine, maybe people who received a first dose and had a reaction to the shot and have been advised by their doctor not to get the second shot,” says Vancouver lawyer Laura Track.

Track says she expects the passport mandate to be challenged in court.

“Our human rights laws in Canada protect people from discrimination on the basis of both disability and religious grounds,” she said.

Her concerns are echoed by lawyer Christine Van Geyn of the Canadian Constitution Foundation.

“People who wish they could be vaccinated but can’t be are now sort of ostracized from society and I think that poses a very big constitutional problem,” Van Geyn said.

“There are reasons people can’t be vaccinated. They are rare but in a province the size of British Columbia, that amounts to a lot of people,” she explained.

Van Geyn says the province needs to create accommodations in the vaccine passport program for people who can’t be vaccinated because of a disability.

Eliason also hopes health officials will make exemptions.

“We’re losing empathy for one another. Everybody’s so angry,” said Eliason. “It’s going to cause a lot of division where we already have so much division.”

She says her daughters are both vaccinated but understand their mom’s decision.


‘Significant’ increase in vaccine registrations and bookings over past 2 days: province

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The B.C. government says there has been a significant increase in vaccine registrations and bookings for first doses over the past two days, especially among those under age 40.

The surge comes the same week B.C.’s vaccine card program was announced. The program is set to take effect next month.

The government said proof of vaccination will be required for access to a variety of non-essential activities and events, including restaurant dining; going to a movie theatre, casino, or nightclub; working out at a gym or fitness centre; and attending indoor ticketed sporting events and concerts, as well as organized indoor weddings, parties, conferences, meetings, and workshops.

Proof of a first vaccine dose will be required by Sept. 13, and proof of full vaccination (seven days after the second dose) will be required by Oct. 24.

The province announced the program Monday, and said over the past two days, 12,904 people under 40 years old have registered for a vaccine, compared to 4,161 during the same period last week.

On Monday, there were 8,909 new registrations, a 174.8 per cent jump over last Monday.

The day following the vaccine card announcement, there were 10,175 new registrations, a 201.3 per cent increase over last Tuesday.

SFU health sciences professor Scott Lear said a similar response has been seen in other jurisdictions that have implemented vaccine passport systems.

“Probably earliest on in France, when they implemented it country-wide,” he said. “They saw their uptake in vaccination, first shots go up in the millions.”

He noted Quebec, which will also be introducing a vaccine passport next month, saw a jump as well.

“They reported after announcing it was going to go in place … that first shots doubled in the first 24 hours as compared to the 24 hours before,” he said. “The majority of people who aren’t vaccinated, they don’t hold strong vaccine-resistant views. A lot of them, it’s complacency and convenience.”

Lear said the vaccine card provides the type of “nudge” and a further incentive to get people vaccinated.

“We live in a society where we do have individual rights, but we also have rights of others,” he said. “And that’s kind of our social contract, in that yes, we can live a certain way, as long as it doesn’t infringe or harm others. And in this case, there’s a possibility of transmitting the virus. That’s a harm.”

Lear said it’s comparable to tobacco regulation, and wearing seatbelts.

“If someone’s smoking beside you, there’s a potential harm to you inhaling that smoke,” he said. “We do at times have to put limits to certain behaviours so that the greater population can function and be safe.”

He said he’d also like to see the proof of vaccination requirement extended to post-secondary classrooms. Right now, it will apply to student housing and other on-campus locations such as gyms and pubs.

“I’ve heard the public health officer say that vaccines shouldn’t stand in the way of education, and that tried to make it an equity type of argument,” he said. “Unless the province is not distributing vaccines to everybody, there’s no equity argument.”

He added there already are other barriers to higher education, including financing and accessibility.


The vaccine proof requirement will also apply to tourists visiting B.C. According to the province, those from within Canada must supply a vaccine record that’s “officially recognized” by their home province or territory, along with government ID. International visitors can display the proof they used to enter Canada, and their passport.

Tourism Industry Association of British Columbia chair Vivek Sharma said the group has been advocating for some kind of proof that people can produce for easing travel.

“So we’re completely behind this,” he said. “I think it’s the right thing to do.”

However, because not every province has a vaccine passport system, there are still questions about the different kinds of documentation.

“Clarity around how our inter-provincial guests will produce the proof, that’s the clarity that I think more businesses are looking for sooner than later,” Sharma said. “Yes, there’ll be some pinch points and some learning curves around it, but it’s a short-term pain for long-term gain.”

The province will be creating a website and a call centre so people can get their cards before Sept. 13.  

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