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Are nursing homes above the law? WestJet changes course on COVID-19 refunds: CBC's Marketplace Cheat Sheet – CBC.ca

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Miss something this week? Don’t panic. CBC’s Marketplace rounds up the consumer and health news you need.

Want this in your inbox? Get the Marketplace newsletter every Friday.

Ont. Nursing homes are breaking the law repeatedly, with few consequences

In our latest investigation, we uncover exclusive details on serious safety violations before the pandemic, including abuse, inadequate infection control, unsafe medication storage, inadequate hydration and poor skin and wound care. Our data analysis reveals 85 per cent of the province’s nursing homes are repeat offenders for some of the most serious violations with almost no consequences. Read more

This man installed a hidden camera in his mother’s room at a long-term care home in Scarborough, Ont. The videos showed different employees physically and verbally abusing the 82-year-old. She was “holding onto the bed rails for dear life,” her son said. 5:00

WestJet says it will now provide refunds for COVID-19 cancellations. Will other airlines follow? 

If you’re among the thousands of Canadians fighting for a refund on air travel cancelled because of the pandemic, you might be in luck. WestJet announced on Wednesday that it would begin offering refunds in the original form of payment, instead of credits. The company said it’s the first national airline in the country to proactively begin refunding customers during the pandemic — a comment that Air Canada has since contested. Read more

WestJet says it will soon offer refunds for flights cancelled due to the pandemic. The refunds also apply to flights booked on the company’s low-cost affiliate, Swoop Airlines. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Google is facing an antitrust lawsuit from the U.S. Justice Department. Here’s what it means

The United States Justice Department alleges Google abused its dominance in online search and advertising to stifle competition and harm consumers. It’s a serious charge and one that Google is expected to fiercely oppose. The company tweeted shortly after the announcement that the “lawsuit by the Department of Justice is deeply flawed. People use Google because they choose to — not because they’re forced to or because they can’t find alternatives.” Read more

Last week, Marketplace investigated fake appliance repair listings online and why you can’t always trust Google Maps

A Marketplace investigation has linked one company in the industry to a network of fake locations and names on Google Maps. 2:09

She wants to honour her husband’s dying wish. But Apple won’t let her access his account

It’s been four years since Carol Anne Noble’s husband died, but she’s still struggling to fulfil a promise she made before his death. Noble wants access to an Apple account she and her husband shared — but was under his name — so she can access and ultimately publish a journal he wrote documenting the progression of his illness. But instead of giving her the password she’s forgotten, the tech giant is demanding she jump through complicated legal hoops to satisfy what experts say is an outdated U.S. law. Go Public reports. Read more

Carol Anne Noble of Toronto wants access to an Apple account she and her late husband shared — but was under his name — so she can fulfil a promise she made to him before he died. 2:32

What else is going on?

Tim Hortons to stop using two cups for hot drinks, use sleeves instead 
It’s part of the coffee chain’s pledge to reduce paper waste.

Government calls on private sector to come up with compostable, recyclable pandemic gear
Initiative seeks to reduce waste from single-use PPE, such as masks, as consumption skyrockets.

Dollarama recalls bogus hand sanitizer
Daily Shield hand sanitizer contains methanol, which can be deadly to humans.

Air Transat lays off half of its remaining flight attendants, closes Vancouver base
128 attendants got layoff notices last week. 

Ontario restaurants near virus hot spots weigh safety-vs-profit with locals-only dining
Some restaurants are making the choice to bar out-of-town customers from indoor dining.

These SALT lounge chairs have been recalled due to a fall hazard
Owners are being urged to return the affected chairs to any Bed Bath & Beyond location for a full refund or credit.

These Cottonelle flushable wipes have been recalled due to possible contamination
Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled product and dispose of it.

This CB2 bookcase has been recalled 
The bottom of the bookcase can become weak or collapse, posing an injury hazard.

This week on Marketplace

David Common reveals exclusive details on the state of Ontario long-term care homes. 22:33

Imagine being a senior locked down in a long-term care home during COVID-19.

Most of your family can’t visit. Meals have been a solitary affair in your room. And, if there’s an outbreak, people are dying around you. It’s a haunting prospect — but hardly the first bad thing to happen inside a nursing home.

Marketplace has, for three years, had a specialized team investigating care homes, the companies that own and operate them, and the government system that supports them. 

In the stories we’ve done, we’ve always wondered: Do things get better?

And that’s what we’ve set out to answer in this week’s episode.

Our team has found that long-term care homes have violated legislation governing Ontario’s care homes 30,000 times over five years. And found that many of the problems identified by government inspectors — offences like abuse and neglect — actually repeat year after year.

It’s one thing to look at numbers, but our team has found the people impacted — and their stories are gripping (and, at times, horrifying). Many of them also have secret video that they’ve shared exclusively with us — and now, you. 

This story is years in the making, and a window inside a world many of us don’t see — but could well end up inside.

-David Common and the Marketplace team

Marketplace needs your help

Have you seen a product claiming to cure COVID-19 that seems too good to be true? Maybe a miracle cure that has you asking questions? We want to hear about it. Email us at marketplace@cbc.ca

CBC Marketplace is looking for people who have experienced racism in real estate. Have you received a low appraisal? Removed cultural objects to stage your home? Email us at marketplace@cbc.ca

Catch up on past episodes of Marketplace any time on CBC Gem.

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Peel Public Health reporting COVID-19 outbreaks at Brampton schools – Brampton Guardian

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  1. Peel Public Health reporting COVID-19 outbreaks at Brampton schools  Brampton Guardian
  2. Toronto enters virus lockdown as US looks to vaccine rollout  RFI
  3. Coronavirus: Latest developments in the Greater Toronto Area on Nov. 23  Global News
  4. Record number of new coronavirus cases reported in Ontario as lockdowns begin in Toronto, Peel  CP24 Toronto’s Breaking News
  5. Ontario’s top public health official now plans to push back retirement amid second wave of pandemic  CP24 Toronto’s Breaking News
  6. View Full coverage on Google News



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Toronto rolling out 'targeted' COVID-19 response for red-hot neighbourhoods – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Toronto is launching an enhanced COVID-19 response program targeting some of the city’s hardest hit neighborhoods.

Mayor John Tory announced the program during the city’s COVID-19 update Monday as the Toronto came under a provincially mandated lockdown to try curb the spread of the disease.

“We can’t stop the spread of COVID-19 in some parts of our city while it rages like wildfire in other parts of the city and we owe it to the most vulnerable to make sure that extra measures are provided, extra supports are provided in their fight against COVID-19,” Tory said. “We have to fight this virus everywhere, and we have to stop it everywhere.”

Data collected by Toronto Public Health have shown that case numbers and positivity rates are higher in certain areas of the city while testing rates are lower, particularly in the northwest corner of the city and northeast Scarborough.

Tory said the data show that the virus is having a disproportionate impact on people who are Indigenous, Black or racialized, precariously employed, live on low income, live in multi-generational housing, or who experience challenges taking time from work when ill.

“We are ramping up our support plan to fix this, in partnership with 11 highly trusted community based partners,” Tory said. “The city is immediately launching an urgent set of initiatives in targeted neighborhoods to increase supports and testing for residents in COVID-19 hotspots.

“This is an all hands on deck effort. Every part of the city government that we can mobilize is involved.”

Those measures will include a broader sharing of public health information, improving access to COVID-19 testing, as well as “critical supports” to those who test positive, and to their families in order to address testing hesitancy.  

Tory said the city is working on expanding the number of provincial testing sites, using buses for more mobile testing, and providing more transportation to testing sites with expanded hours.

The city is also continuing to lobby higher levels of government to continue or implement further supports to help those who are most vulnerable.

In particular, Tory said the city is renewing a request for the province to continue a ban on residential evictions during the pandemic.

Another major problem affecting some parts of the city is hesitation to get tested for fear that a positive test will mean loss pf income.

“Right now, people in the City of Toronto are waking up with COVID-19 symptoms, going to work, and giving the virus to their coworkers. Why, because they fear losing their jobs and or their paycheck, and they feel compelled to continue working without getting tested so they can put food on the table,” Tory said.

Tory said current federal and provincial supports for workers who have to take time off to isolate are either inadequate or net well understood. He said he has raised the matter with federal and provincial ministers but in the meantime is calling on employers to “do the right thing” by supporting workers who have to take time off to isolate because they have tested positive or have symptoms.

Following Tory, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa reiterated that many frontline workers are relying on those who can stay home as much as possible to do so.

“We owe it to them, those of us who can choose to keep apart more than others. We owe it to them to choose wisely and in ways that limit the risk for those who don’t have the choice to keep apart, and who may be at an even greater risk of getting sick because of it,” de Villa said. “This is truer for some communities in Toronto than others.”

De Villa said she remains “very worried” about where the city is going in terms of its progress in fighting the pandemic and urged people to reduce unnecessary trips and interactions in order to do their part.

“I urge you to act with the care and caution that we all showed last spring,” she said. “As I’ve said many times, with each choice we are able to make, we can lessen the likelihood of worse infection rates and soften the blow of what is yet to come.”

She said the possibility of allowing gatherings at Christmas and other events into next year depend on how well the city does in containing the spread of the virus during the current lockdown. 

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'This is actually terrifying': Toronto-area small businesses fight for survival as new lockdown takes effect – theglobeandmail.com

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In Scarborough, Karahi Boys restaurant owner Taha Yasin, seen here in Toronto on Nov. 23, 2020, has spent $35,000 to build a patio with proper heating and ventilation to entice winter diners. ‘All that investment has gone down the drain,’ Mr. Yasin said.

Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail

Independent retailers, bars and restaurants in the Toronto region are scrambling to figure out how they will survive the crucial holiday season as renewed lockdown measures forced them to close their doors again on Monday while some big-box store chains can remain open.

After a weekend spent dealing with long lineups and last-minute spending sprees, reality set in on Monday. Frances Watson, a clothing boutique on Toronto’s Queen Street West, typically pulls in half of its annual sales in November and December, and three-quarters of its business comes from walk-in customers – who are now barred from entry.

“This is actually terrifying,” owner Meg Watson said. “It doesn’t seem like it’s really about health when there are other huge stores packed with 60 people in them. … You’re closing me and letting Walmart open?”

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Premier Doug Ford announced sweeping shutdowns Friday for Toronto and neighbouring Peel Region that will force small businesses in the massive metropolitan area that sell goods deemed non-essential to rely on pickup and delivery – ahead of a holiday season that many entrepreneurs depend on to help them survive slow winters. Chains including Walmart and Costco, which are exempt from closing because they sell groceries, are allowed to stay open with new 50-per-cent capacity limits.

“Doug Ford signed the death warrant for thousands of small businesses over the weekend,” said Dan Kelly, head of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) in an interview. He hopes the Ontario government will turn around and offer additional subsidies to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), and suggests the province could top up the differentials businesses receive from federal rent and wage subsides, which were recently expanded and extended.

“The Ford government has been the slowest in providing any degree of substantive support to independent businesses,” Mr. Kelly said. In a tweet Monday, he decried another apparent provincial inconsistency as people began tweeting that The Bay department store at Queen and Yonge Streets in Toronto was open because it sells food in its basement. Though Ontario later clarified that only big-box retailers with “a full grocery store component” were eligible to stay open (and it specified The Bay is not eligible), it added to the confusion.

Mr. Kelly tweeted that if The Bay could stay open selling groceries, the province should allow “every shuttered small firm to sell chips and chocolate and declare themselves as an essential retailer.”

The CFIB has offered other suggestions to keep small businesses open, including extra-cautious customer limits for indoor shopping. But Ontario’s Associate Minister of Small Business, Prabmeet Sarkaria, declined on Monday to say whether the province was considering the CFIB’s proposals or reversing course in other ways. “The decisions that were made and put forward were with the best advice of health officials advising the government,” he told reporters.

Entrepreneurs in Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon, where COVID-19 cases have been rising faster than in other parts of the province, now face at least 28 days with no foot traffic, while stores and restaurants in neighbouring jurisdictions such as Vaughan and Oakville are far less restricted. Meanwhile, in Manitoba, even big-box stores can only sell essential goods such as food in-store, with the rest left for pickup.

Manitoba is also offering up to $5,000 in “bridge grants” to locked-down entrepreneurs to cover costs as revenues collapse, with the possibility of more to come, while Quebec has offered locked-down businesses in affected cities up to $15,000 a month to cover eligible costs. Ontario’s new lockdown subsidies have been limited to topping up an existing pool of funding to reduce electricity and property-tax bills, doubling it to $600-million.

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“The next five weeks is the biggest time of the year for retailers,” said Steve Long, president of musical instrument and equipment retailer Long & McQuade, which was forced to shut down six locations Sunday evening.

Picking out a guitar or drum kit is often a purchase based on feel or experience – and now Mr. Long worries consumers will instead turn to still-open big-box chains such as Walmart to find other holiday gifts instead. “If you’re going to close retail, don’t close half of retail,” Mr. Long said.

As lockdowns tighten, the country’s economic outlook has dimmed. Prior to the second wave, Bank of Montreal estimated that Canada’s GDP would grow at about an 8-per-cent annualized rate in the fourth quarter. Now, it projects zero growth in the quarter, “which might be optimistic,” strategist Benjamin Reitzes said Monday in a note to clients.

“The structure of the lockdowns in Toronto and Peel will likely have the largest impact on small businesses who are now forced to shut down, driving shoppers to big-box stores,” he said. “This is where the real damage is going to be from this government decision.”

SMBs in Toronto and Peel spent the weekend scrambling. Some bars discounted draught beer to empty their kegs for customers sitting on patios that will no longer be used, while some retailers saw block-long lineups. Mr. Long, of Long & McQuade, said foot traffic was up about 50 per cent on Saturday.

In Scarborough, Taha Yasin has spent $35,000 to build a patio with proper heating and ventilation to entice winter diners to his Pakistani restaurant, Karahi Boys, which specializes in Lahori foods and has another location in Mississauga.

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The patio is still not finished, and he expects take-out and delivery revenues to be 25 per cent to 30 per cent of usual levels this winter. “All that investment has gone down the drain,” Mr. Yasin said. “That could have gone to other bills.”

With gyms fully closed, Habitual Fitness & Lifestyle in Mississauga is focusing again on virtual classes. “We had a good turnout in the spring” for online classes, general manager Silvio Mazzulla said. “But it was nothing compared to what we would have [normally] done in revenue during those months.”

The business improvement association in Toronto’s Roncesvalles neighbourhood has joined forces with the ad agency Local Collective to launch a new shop-local campaign on Tuesday with a stunt meant to starkly illustrate what is at stake. Dozens of shops will be wrapped in “For Lease” signs to warn residents of the ghost town that could result if they desert their local stores for Amazon or big-box shopping this season.

“It’s a visual representation of what you could come to, six months from now, a year from now, if main streets are forgotten during the pandemic,” said Adam Langley, the association’s vice-chair.

With a report from Jeff Gray

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