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Canadians have been told to stay home during the pandemic. Are we listening? – CTV News

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TORONTO —
As leaders in many provinces start talking about loosening movement restrictions, new data suggests Canadians may already be deciding on their own to head out of the house a little more often.

Physical distancing has been a key weapon in the battle against COVID-19 in Canada and around the world. Because the virus can be transmitted from person to person, entire populations have been urged to never get within two metres of anyone who is not a part of their household.

Canadians started to hear these messages be directed at them in mid-March. They intensified as the month went on, with every province or territory declaring states or emergency and several ordering all their residents to always stay home unless absolutely necessary. To help facilitate this, many provinces ordered closures of “non-essential” businesses for which working from home is not an option, including large portions of the country’s retail and service-industry sectors.

Publicly available data suggests the message got through. Tech giants Google and Apple have both been tracking public mobility via information from mobile devices, and both found sharp drop-offs in Canadians’ movement levels as March gave way to April.

Google’s Community Mobility Report for Canada found that activity in Canadian parks was down nearly 40 per cent from baseline levels by the end of March. Time spent in places affected by government closure orders was down even more substantially – over 50 per cent for retail and recreation destinations and close to 60 per cent for workplaces. Time spent at home, meanwhile, was about 30 per cent above what Google normally measures.

Apple’s Mobility Trends Reports tracked similar conclusions for Canada despite reporting data differently. While Google is tracking location data on phones and comparing one place’s current traffic level to its pre-pandemic activity, Apple bases its reports on requests for directions in Apple Maps.

Looking at searches for walking and driving routes, Apple measured Canadians’ movement activity as being 50 per cent or more below usual levels for most of late March and early April, while public transit-related activity was down by more than 80 per cent.

Both reports show increased movement in the days leading up to Easter – when many of the retailers allowed to stay open chose to close for two statutory holidays – and unsurprising new lows in movement activity on Easter weekend, then a return to normal pandemic-era activity the following week.

Apple and Google both say they are preserving privacy in the gathering of this data, collecting it without making personally identifiable information available at any point in the process.

A report earlier this month from Environics Analytics concluded that there is more outdoor foot traffic during the pandemic in areas associated with lower incomes, suggesting those leaving their homes more often may have lower incomes and be unable to work from home or employed at workplaces that have been deemed essential.

Google’s data currently stops on April 17, with activity in parks, grocery stores and pharmacies 22 per cent below normal levels, retail and recreation down by 53 per cent, and workplace activity down by 59 per cent.

Apple’s data continues on for another week, showing a significant increase in requests for both driving and walking directions. Although both were still well below Apple’s baseline levels – 31 per cent and 36 per cent, respectively – they were at their highest points since mid-March, when other provinces were just starting to follow Quebec’s lead in declaring states of emergency.

If this trend continues, and if Google and other measures of public mobility show similar findings, it could suggest a very real possibility of complacency – Canadians chafing under physical distancing requirements and starting to ignore them in a way that, up until this past week, had not been happening.

The increase in requests for directions from Apple Maps comes as the weather is warming in many parts of the country, making the idea of spending time outdoors more tempting, and as the national conversation around COVID-19 is increasingly dominated by talk of starting to reopen the economy.

New Brunswick loosened some of its rules on Friday, reopening parks, beaches, golf courses and places of worship – but still requiring physical distancing in all these places – after not detecting any new cases of the novel coronavirus for seven days. The first phase of Saskatchewan’s reopening will begin May 4, while provinces including Manitoba, Prince Edward Island, and the hard-hit Ontario and Quebec have announced that reopening plans are in the works.

Both Google and Apple have made available limited geographic breakdowns of their findings within Canada. Neither shows any significant correlation between their data and the list of provinces working toward reopening.

There are a few notable trends in the regional data, including that Ontarians and Quebecers appear more likely to have started working from home, while parks in British Columbia are actually seeing more activity than usual – more than 40 per cent more for most of the past two weeks, according to Google.

Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal residents are much more likely than most Canadians to have stopped asking Apple Maps to find driving or walking routes, while there have been major upticks in searches for pedestrian directions in Calgary and Edmonton since Easter weekend.

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Anti-black racism protests, vigils planned across Canada – CBC.ca

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Canadians continued to rally and demonstrate against anti-black racism and police brutality on Saturday, a day after thousands attended protests and vigils across the country.

The demonstrations follow days of protests across the U.S. over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minneapolis, Minn. A police officer kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. 

Many are calling for police reform and an end to systemic racism.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam on Friday urged demonstrators to “take care of themselves” and follow public health guidelines such as physical distancing as much as possible and using hand sanitizers.

Read on to see what’s happening around Canada.

Toronto

Thousands demonstrated in two separate protests in Toronto against anti-black racism. The first protest began at Nathan Phillips Square, while the second began at Trinity Bellwoods Park.

Twanna Lewis, a Toronto resident at Trinity Bellwoods Park, said she was protesting for the first time on Saturday because she felt the need to take a stand for people who are voiceless. She has an 18-year-old black son, cousins, uncles and a brother.

“It’s 2020 and we need to be doing better,” Lewis told CBC Toronto. “It’s a shame that we have to be having this conversation in this day and age, when we think that we have gone so far.”

WATCH | Hand sanitizer, masks handed out at Toronto protest:

CBC’s Lorenda Reddekopp reports from inside a peaceful protest march Saturday where hand sanitizer and masks were being handed out 3:09

At Nathan Phillips Square, demonstrators chanted, held placards and posters, and listened to speakers. Then the protesters marched to the U.S. consulate and onward to Yonge-Dundas Square.

“I can’t breathe,” the crowd chanted at one point at Nathan Phillips Square, in a reference to some of Floyd’s last words before his death on May 25.

People held up signs that read “No Justice No Peace” and “Yes it’s here too Ford.” Ontario Premier Doug Ford had said Canada doesn’t have the “systemic, deep roots” of racism as the U.S.

WATCH | Protesters, police speak at Toronto demonstration:

Action for injustice group behind march through downtown: CBC’s Natalie Nanowski reports from the scene at Nathan Phillips Square 4:01

St. John’s 

Thousands of people kneeled on the lawn of Confederation Building in St. John’s during a rally in support of the Black Lives Matter.

The rally, organized by newly established Black Lives Matter NL, featured speeches and performances from members of the area’s black community sharing their own stories of racism.

Crowds were able to physically distance during the rally, spreading themselves across the lawn of Confederation Building. There was a small police presence, but no incidents were reported.

A demonstrator holds up a sign during a Black Lives Matter rally at the Confederation Building in St. John’s on Saturday. (Marie Isabelle Rochon/Radio-Canada)

Zainab Jerrett, who came to Newfoundland in the 1990s and is a professor at Memorial University, was one of the speakers on stage and was overwhelmed by the public support.

“That shows that this problem is effecting everybody, and everyone wants to chip in to bring a solution,” Jerrett said. “I almost got emotional because there’s so many people … young people of all cultures in Newfoundland.”

“This is an awakening. The people are interested in listening to the black community” she added. “[But] we are all the same. The more we come together as a human race, the better.”

Calgary

A vigil is scheduled for 4 p.m. MT outside Calgary’s Olympic Plaza in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.

“We must all come together to speak against murders by police officers and the institutions defending them,” organizers said in a Facebook post.

They also encourage attendees to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines like wearing masks and physical distancing.

Thousands attended a similar demonstration in Calgary on Wednesday.

Fort McMurray, Alta.

Elsewhere in Alberta, a Black Lives Matter rally was held at Fort McMurray City Hall.

The rally comes as Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam says Wood Buffalo RCMP officers beat and arrested him in a Fort McMurray parking lot earlier this year. 

People gather outside city hall for a Black Lives Matter Rally in Fort McMurray, Alta., on Saturday. (Jamie Malbeuf/CBC)

London, Ont.

In London, Ont., hundreds gathered at Victoria Park for an anti-racism rally.

Mayor Ed Holder said he supports the purpose behind the rally but declined to attend in person to comply with physical distancing rules recommended by health authorities in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Guelph, Ont.

Volunteers handed out bottles of water and squirts of hand sanitizer to marchers in Guelph, Ont., as thousands of demonstrators descended upon city hall. Organizer took COVID-19 precautions after health officials urged protesters to adhere to public health protocols.

A similar demonstration in Kitchener on Wednesday saw thousands of people walk through the downtown core holding signs. 

Volunteers handed out bottles of water and squirts of hand sanitizer to marchers in Guelph. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

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‘They’re targeting us’: Why some advocates want to defund Canadian police – Global News

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In recent days, protests against anti-Black racism and police brutality have erupted across the U.S. and Canada in response to the deaths of Black Americans George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.

Now, some advocates are calling for police forces to be defunded and taxpayer money to be redirected — a conversation that is also happening in Canada, stemming from the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old Black and Indigenous woman who fell from her Toronto apartment balcony after police entered the unit.

Police claim they were responding to a reported assault, but the family has questioned the role of the police in her death. The Special Investigations Unit, Ontario’s police watchdog, is currently investigating.

READ MORE: Advocates call plan to boost Black history B.C. school curriculum ‘long overdue’

Defunding the police means redirecting the budget for Canada’s police forces to other services that focus on social supports, mental health and even spaces like transit, said Sandy Hudson, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter Toronto and a law student at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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“There’s no reason why we can’t start a service that is another emergency response service where people can call a number and have someone who is trained in de-escalation,” Hudson said.

Now, with more incidents of police brutality in the news, calls for defunding the police both in the U.S. and Canada are louder than ever.

The history of police in Canada

This is hardly the first time defunding the police has been talked about in Canada, experts told Global News.

Examining the way police uphold and participate in anti-Black racism and violence towards Black and Indigenous communities in Canada has been a discussion for decades, said Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto Mississauga.

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“Part of it is discrimination within policing — both implicit and explicit — but then the other parts of it are how the police operate and what we’re asking police to do,” he said.






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Regis Korchinski-Paquet death: Toronto protesters march in memoriam, against anti-Black violence


Regis Korchinski-Paquet death: Toronto protesters march in memoriam, against anti-Black violence

The origins of policing in the southern United States were based on preserving the slavery system, as Time magazine reports, and police were primarily tasked with being “slave patrols” to prevent Black slaves from escaping. After the Civil War ended, these patrols still existed to uphold segregation and discrimination towards Black people.

Police in Canada were historically also tasked with “clearing the land” to steal the property of Indigenous Peoples, said Hudson.

“Those two focuses of the police, Indigenous and Black people, controlling us … there’s a through line to today and how the police interact with our communities,” she said.

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READ MORE: The RCMP was created to control Indigenous people. Can the relationship be reset?

Policing has been used to enforce the dominant narrative in Canada, which is colonization, said Alicia Boatswain-Kyte, a social work professor at McGill University whose research examines systemic oppression.

“These institutions are a product of (colonialism); they stem from that,” she said. “Right now we’re seeing what it looks like at this stage … and it gets manifested in the form of police brutality.”

Mental health, homelessness and other social issues

Experts are concerned that police in Canada are tasked with issues related to poverty, mental health and homelessness, and they are “ill-equipped and an inappropriate resource to be addressing those issues,” Owusu-Bempah said.

A 2018 report on racial profiling by the Ontario Human Rights Commission found that a Black person was 20 times more likely than a white person to be involved in a fating shooting by Toronto police. The report was the result of an inquiry launched after Andrew Loku, a father of five who was experiencing mental health issues, died after being shot by police.

A coroner’s inquest ruled that Loku’s death was the result of a homicide and recommended that police are better trained if they are to deal with mental health calls.

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“The violence we see inflicted by the police are often happening with people who are having a mental health crisis,” said Hudson.

Shifting the money to fund organizations that understand the nuances of mental health issues and the challenges faced by racialized communities would be a better use of taxpayers’ money, she said.






4:29
How racism affects Black mental health


How racism affects Black mental health

Out of the nearly one million calls the force responds to, Toronto police respond to about 30,000 mental health calls every year, spokeswoman Meaghan Gray told the Canadian Press.

The force’s mobile crisis intervention teams ⁠— which include a trained officer and a mental health nurse ⁠— attend only 6,000 of those calls each year because they do not go to calls where a weapon may be involved.

Annual training for the force includes courses on communication and deescalation techniques, said Gray.

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“The Toronto Police Service believes that mental health is a complex issue that requires the involvement of multiple entities, including but not limited to community support, public health, and all levels of government, to render any meaningful change,” she said.

READ MORE: Marches in Toronto, Ottawa to honour Black lives lost at hands of police officers

It would be better if a mental health nurse or some other trained expert was always present, Boatswain-Kyte said.

“Are they (police) really the ones that are best suited?” she said.

“Social workers, for instance, go to school to understand how to form relationships, to understand how people are excluded and what factors contribute to their exclusion.”

READ MORE: George Floyd death draws scruitiny on police use of force. What’s Canada’s protocol?

By making police the body available to provide help in these situations, Boatswain-Kyte said, it sends a message that people with those health issues aren’t welcome in our society.

“Regardless of the amount of training … the implicit bias as a result of what (police) have been socialized to believe and understand about the ‘dangers’ of Black and brown bodies is going to influence them at the time when they have to make a decision.”

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Boatswain-Kyte points to a study published in May from Columbia University that found there is “no evidence that enhanced police training focused on mental health crises” can reduce fatal shootings towards those having a mental health crisis, or racialized people in general.

By the numbers

In Toronto, the largest portion of a resident’s property tax bill — around $700 out of an average bill of $3,020 — goes to the Toronto Police Service. The lowest portion of property taxes goes to children’s services, Toronto employment and social services and economic development and culture.

The situation is similar elsewhere in the country, as the Vancouver police budget has grown by more than $100 million in the last decade, representing about one-fifth of the city’s $1.6-billion 2020 operating budget.






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Backlash mounting over Premier Doug Ford’s comments on racism in Canada


Backlash mounting over Premier Doug Ford’s comments on racism in Canada

A 2014 report published by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute found that policing budgets in Canada had doubled compared to the GDP since 2004, even though the public calls to police have “remained stable.”

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“Police associations have been happy to stoke public fears about safety, but the correlation between numbers of officers, crime rates and response times has long been shown to be spurious,” the report said, authored by Christian Leuprecht, a political science professor at Queen’s University and Royal Military College.

Police work that is essentially unrelated to policing could be done by other groups, Leuprecht explains.

Moving forward

Owusu-Bempah is calling on city mayors like Toronto Mayor John Tory to review which roles and functions we want the police to provide and which should be provided by other agencies.

“Then we need a lot of (the) funding currently spent on police … given to other organizations” that are better equipped to help with issues like homelessness and mental illness, he said.

Given the recent incidents of anti-Black racism and brutality perpetuated by police, Hudson says defunding the police would also give agency and safety to Black communities.

READ MORE: George Floyd’s death still a homicide despite evidence of medical issues: experts

“How could the body that is ostensibly meant to provide safety for our communities … be one of the the the the reasons we keep getting hurt?” Hudson said.

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“Most people don’t have to interact with police at all … but for our communities, they’re targeting us.

“We just want to live like everybody else.”

— With files from the Canadian Press

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Meghan.Collie@globalnews.ca

Olivia.Bowden@globalnews.ca

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Ontario extends emergency orders to June 19, as province reports 455 new COVID-19 cases – CBC.ca

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Ontario is extending its emergency orders for another 10 days, the same day the province reported an additional 455 cases, 68 of which were the result of a reporting delay. 

The province’s emergency orders had been set to expire June 9 but Ontario announced Saturday that they are being extended until June 19.

Those orders include banning people from dining in bars and restaurants, and gathering in groups larger than five.

They also include the closure of child-care centres, though Premier Doug Ford has said that a phased reopening plan for them will be announced early next week.

Extending the emergency orders also means the continued closure of bars and restaurants except for takeout and delivery, libraries except for curbside pickup or delivery, and theatres.

Ontarians looking to use playgrounds, or beat the heat at public pools and splash pads are also out of luck as a result of the extended orders. 

“Extending these emergency orders will give employers of frontline care providers the necessary flexibility to respond to COVID-19 and protect vulnerable people and the public as the province gradually and safely reopens,” the Ontario government said in a release issued Saturday morning. 

Additionally, the province says it is extending the suspension of limitation periods and time periods for legal proceedings until Sept. 11, ensuring people “will not experience legal consequences” if the original time requirements of their case are not met while this order is in effect.

This news comes after Ontario’s state of emergency, which permits the government to issue emergency orders like these, was extended earlier this week to June 30

Ontario’s cumulative cases surpass 30,000

Meanwhile, the province reported 387 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, as well as 68 others that were impacted by a reporting delay.  

According to new data released by Ontario’s Ministry of Health, the lag in reporting was the result of a “laboratory-to-public health reporting delay.”

That delay stemmed from a “breakdown in communication” between an assessment centre and a hospital lab where a number of positive tests were not communicated to the public health units, Public Health Ontario told CBC Toronto in an email. 

When combined, those 455 newly reported cases represent a 1.5 per cent increase in total cases, a spike when compared to increases in new cases seen earlier this week, which hovered around 1.2 per cent.

The province’s cumulative number of cases now sits at 30,202. Some 23,947 of those cases are considered resolved.

Ontario’s network of about 20 labs processed some 23,105 tests on Friday, the most on any single day since the outbreak began in late January and the first time that figure has surpassed 23,000. 

Ontario has now broken its record number of tests processed for the third straight day, though the province’s partnership of about 20 public, commercial and hospital labs have capacity to handle up to 25,000 samples per day.

Watch l Ontario struggles to keep COVID-19 under control:

Cases of COVID-19 are rising again in Ontario and while Premier Doug Ford says it’s because of more testing, others say there are bigger problems that need addressing. 2:02 

The province’s official COVID-19 death toll grew by 35 and now sits at 2,407. A CBC News count based on data compiled directly from regional public health units puts the real toll at at least 2,434 as of Saturday at 12:30 p.m. 

Just over 64 per cent of COVID-19-linked deaths were residents in long-term care homes, a drop of 15 per cent from the province’s previous update.

The province has tracked outbreaks in 311 long-term care facilities, while 88 remain ongoing, a drop in 78 homes since yesterday. 

Public Health Ontario that significant drop stemmed from the the fact that many long-term care outbreaks that were classified as “open” also included an “declared over” date, which signals that the outbreak is over. That error has since been rectified, Public Health Ontario said in an email. 

The number of patients in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 dropped by 76, down to 673. 

Those being treated in intensive care units fell by one, to 117, while patients requiring a ventilator increased by three, to 97. 

Despite steady new case numbers, Ford says he will reveal details next week on Ontario’s second phase of loosening pandemic restrictions

Although Stage 2 won’t begin immediately after details are revealed, Ford says the province will give notices to businesses that will be given the green light to reopen. 

“We encourage businesses to begin preparing to reopen, so when the time comes, they will be able to protect employees, consumers and the general public,” Ford said in the statement Saturday. 

Meanwhile, thousands of people took to the streets of downtown Toronto Friday to protest against anti-black racism — you can read more about that here

2nd migrant worker dies in Windsor

The Windsor region is reporting the death of a second migrant worker from COVID-19.

Windsor Regional Hospital says a 24-year-old man was first admitted to a different hospital on Monday, and died at their facility on Friday.

The hospital says they have contacted the man’s family in Mexico.

A news release also says that local hospitals and health organizations will jointly conduct a “mass swabbing” for COVID-19 of 8,000 migrant workers in Windsor-Essex starting on Tuesday.

Another temporary foreign worker in the Windsor area who came to Canada in February and tested positive for the virus on May 21 died last weekend.

Approximately 20,000 migrant workers come to Ontario each year to work on farms and in greenhouses — many of them from Mexico, Guatemala and the Caribbean — and this year have been required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

Outbreaks that have affected dozens of migrant workers have been reported in Chatham-Kent, Windsor-Essex, Niagara Region and Elgin County.

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