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Family says 'back and forth' between NS, Ottawa over shooting probe 'unreal' – Lethbridge Herald

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By Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press on June 1, 2020.

Heather O’Brien is shown in a handout photo from the GoFundMe page “Support for the O’Brien Family.” Heather O’Brien was among the victims of the mass killings in Nova Scotia. A Nova Scotia family is making a passionate appeal for the federal and Nova Scotia governments to end the “back and forth” over who leads a public inquiry into the province’s mass shooting. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-GoFundMe MANDATORY CREDIT

HALIFAX – A Nova Scotia family has made a passionate appeal for the federal and Nova Scotia governments to end the “back and forth” over which should lead a public inquiry into a recent mass shooting.

Darcy Dobson, the daughter of a licensed practical nurse who was among the 22 victims, writes in an open letter that she, her father Andrew and her five siblings “formally request the start of a public inquiry into the mass shooting on April 18 and 19.”

The letter notes that with few answers provided more than 40 days after the tragedy, families aren’t able to heal properly, and adds “the amount of information being kept from us is deplorable.”

Premier Stephen McNeil has said he wants Ottawa to lead a public inquiry because the areas of key jurisdiction – such as the protocols followed by the RCMP – are federal.

However, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hasn’t committed his government to overseeing an inquiry, saying only it will “work with the government of Nova Scotia” to get answers.

Dobson’s mother, Heather O’Brien of Truro, N.S., was killed by the gunman on April 19 as she drove along a highway in Debert, N.S.

The letter from the 30-year-old daughter is signed by the entire O’Brien family and says, “the back and forth about who’s responsible for an inquiry is unreal.”

It says mistakes were made at both the provincial and federal levels, adding, “We need answers to heal, we need answers so we can find a way to live in this new normal that we’ve been forced into.”

The letter adds that authorities should be trying to learn from one of the worst mass killings in Canadian history.

“What’s the hold up in the inquiry? Why hasn’t this happened yet? Where are we in the investigation? Was someone else involved? Why can’t we get any answers at all 40 days in?!” it asks.

“The fact that any one of us has to ask these questions is all very concerning and only makes everyone feel inadequate, unimportant and unsafe.

“Please for the people of our province, for the people of our country, for the people who have lost someone so dear to their hearts, find a way to let us start to heal.”

Dobson writes in her letter that her mother had taught her children to push strongly for what they believe in.

“This is why we are standing up. We are requesting you give us the information we all deserve.”

She also says other families may soon be joining hers in publishing requests for an inquiry to be called.

In recent weeks questions have been raised about why the RCMP didn’t issue a search warrant for the gunman’s home in Portapique, after reports of domestic abuse of his spouse and possession of illegal firearms seven years ago.

Last month, Brenda Forbes, a former neighbour of Gabriel Wortman – who was shot and killed by police on April 19 – said she reported an account of a 2013 incident of domestic violence by Wortman against his common-law spouse to the RCMP in Truro.

She said she reported witnesses telling her that Wortman had strangled and beaten his common-law partner, and she said she told police there were guns in the house.

Police have said Wortman’s rampage began late on the night of April 18 with the domestic assault of the same woman, who managed to escape and hide in the woods after the gunman assaulted her at their residence in Portapique.

The RCMP said in an email Friday it is still looking for the police record of the 2013 incident and declined further comment.

Last week saw more revelations the Mounties had received detailed warnings about Wortman.

A newly released police bulletin revealed that in May 2011, a Truro police officer had received information from a source indicating Wortman was upset about a police investigation into a break-and-enter and had “stated he wants to kill a cop.”

The officer goes on to say he was told Wortman owned a handgun and was having some “mental issues” that left him feeling stressed and “a little squirrelly.”

Thirty-three Dalhousie law professors have called for an inquiry under the Public Inquiries Act – which allows for broad terms of reference – arguing the province is responsible for the administration of justice.

Other legal experts have said another option is for a joint federal-provincial inquiry, as there are overlapping issues of provincial and federal jurisdiction.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 1, 2020.

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8 new coronavirus cases identified in Ottawa on Monday – Globalnews.ca

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Ottawa Public Health’s (OPH) novel coronavirus case tally rose by eight on Monday as the city’s streak of days without a death related to the virus hit double digits.

The local public health unit says it’s identified 2,118 lab-confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Ottawa since the pandemic was first declared in mid-March.

There are currently 54 active cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, in Ottawa, but 85 per cent of previously identified cases are now marked resolved.

Read more:
Ottawa, surrounding regions make indoor masks mandatory as of Tuesday

Three people are currently in hospital with the disease.

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Some 263 people in the city have died as a result of COVID-19 — that figure has remained unchanged for the past 10 days.

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OPH also said Monday the outbreak at the Peter D. Clark long-term care facility ended on July 4, which marked at least 14 days since a resident or staff member last tested positive for the virus.

The outbreak at the city-run long-term care home was first declared on April 28. There were 45 coronavirus cases linked to the Peter D. Clark outbreak, with eight residents dying as a result of complications from COVID-19.

Staff at the home are now starting to schedule outdoor visits between residents and family members.

There is now only one Ottawa institution currently facing an outbreak: the Rideau building at the Perley & Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre.

Eleven people have tested positive for the virus at the long-term care home’s Rideau facility, with one resident dying in connection to COVID-19.






1:00
Coronavirus: Ontario health minister says there’s ‘hope’ for move to stage 3 soon


Coronavirus: Ontario health minister says there’s ‘hope’ for move to stage 3 soon

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

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Hundreds of Scientists Warn COVID-19 Is Airborne, And WHO Needs to Act – ScienceAlert

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As countries ease their lockdowns, authorities need to recognize the coronavirus can spread through the air far beyond the two meters (six feet) urged in social distancing guidelines, an international group of 239 scientists said Monday.

In a comment piece that takes direct aim at the World Health Organization (WHO) for its reluctance to update its advice, researchers recommended new measures including increasing indoor ventilation, installing high-grade air filters and UV lamps, and preventing overcrowding in buildings and transport.

“There is significant potential for inhalation exposure to viruses in microscopic respiratory droplets (microdroplets) at short to medium distances (up to several meters, or room scale),” wrote the authors, led by Lidia Morawska of the Queensland University of Technology.

“Hand washing and social distancing are appropriate, but in our view, insufficient to provide protection from virus-carrying respiratory microdroplets released into the air by infected people.”

The new paper appears in the Oxford Academic journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

When an infected person breathes, speaks, coughs or sneezes, they expel droplets of various sizes.

Those above five to ten micrometers – which is less than the width of a typical human head hair – fall to the ground in seconds and within a meter or two.

Droplets under this size can become suspended in the air in what is called an “aerosol,” remaining aloft for several hours and traveling up to tens of meters.

There has been a debate in the scientific community about how infectious microdroplets are in the context of COVID-19.

For the time being the WHO advises that the potential for infection from an aerosol occurs “in specific circumstances” mainly in hospitals, for example when a tube is placed down a patient’s airway.

On the other hand, some studies of particular spreading events suggest that aerosolization and microdroplet transmission can happen in a variety of settings.

The air flow from an air conditioning unit appeared to waft the coronavirus to several tables in a Chinese restaurant in January where patrons became infected, according to a study that appeared in Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Another study that appeared in a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that the virus was spread by microdroplets from people singing during a choir practice in Washington state in March.

Fifty-three people fell ill at that event and two died.

That is in addition to the fact that bars jam-packed with people have also emerged as hotspots of contagion, with droplets of all sizes believed to contribute to the spread.

Cath Noakes, a professor of environmental engineering for buildings at the University of Leeds, who contributed to the paper, said COVID-19 doesn’t spread in the air as easily as measles or tuberculosis, but is a threat nonetheless.

“COVID-19 is more likely to be ‘opportunistically’ airborne and therefore poses a risk to people who are in the same room for long periods of time,” she added.

The WHO advice is out of step with both the US CDC and its European counterpart.

“We are aware of the article and are reviewing its contents with our technical experts,” the WHO said in response to the new commentary.

Precautionary principle

The authors recognized that the evidence for microdroplet transmission was “admittedly incomplete,” but argued that the evidence for large droplets and surface transmission was also incomplete yet still formed the basis for health guidelines.

“Following the precautionary principle, we must address every potentially important pathway to slow the spread of COVID-19,” they wrote.

Put another way, “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence,” said Julian Tang, an associate professor of respiratory sciences at the University of Leicester who contributed to the commentary.

“The WHO say that there is insufficient evidence to prove aerosol/airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is happening. We are arguing that there is insufficient proof that aerosol/airborne transmission does not occur,” he said.

© Agence France-Presse

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Ottawa business owner won't ask workers to enforce mask rules – CBC.ca

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The owner of an Ottawa coffee chain says mandatory mask rules announced by four public health units on Monday could place significant pressure on employees to enforce the new policy, but not at his shops.

Henry Assad, owner of Happy Goat Coffee, said his employees will instead be asked to “politely request, but not to enforce,” the new mask rules intended to protect residents against the spread of COVID-19. 

“If the customer is not willing to oblige or is not willing to actually voluntarily put the mask on, I think we’ll have to leave it at that,” said Assad, while speaking with All In a Day host Alan Neal on Monday. 

“I definitely will not ask my employees to ask people to get out of the establishment or to force them to wear one,” he said. “That will not be our recommendations, at least for the time being.”

Henry Assad, owner of the Happy Goat Coffee chain, says employees won’t be told to enforce new mandatory mask rules. Instead, employees will be instructed to politely ask that customers wear masks. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

According to the new indoor mask rules, business owners, as of 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, are required to adopt a policy to make sure customers aren’t inside businesses without a mask that covers the nose, mouth and chin. 

Speaking at a Monday media conference, Ottawa Public Health medical officer of health Vera Etches said the onus will be on businesses to establish a mask policy, train staff and post visible signs about the new rules. 

However, Etches said “we do not expect them to be the police.” 

Exceptions to the mandatory mask rule apply to young children, as well as customers unable to safely wear a mask due to pre-existing medical conditions.

Businesses could face fines ranging from $500 to $800 for non compliance.

‘A lot of concern’ around rule

Ryan Mallough, Ontario provincial affairs director for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said his organization has heard “a lot of concern” from businesses in areas where mandatory mask rules exist. 

Ryan Mallough, with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, says he hopes bylaw officers and health officials enforce new mandatory mask rules fairly. (Sameer Chhabra/CBC)

He’s also hearing from businesses who understand that the rules are designed to protect against COVID-19, he said. 

“Absolutely no one wants to see us get into second-wave territory or a situation where businesses are going to be shut down again,” Mallough said. “And if mandatory masks [are] going to help us get there, that is good.”

Mallough says there’s a lack of clarity about how the mask rules will be enforced in communities across Ontario.

“For example, if you’ve got a customer that is outright refusing to wear a mask, you’re supposed to deny them entry. But if they’re already in your store, what exactly is the business owner expected to do?” asked Mallough.

“Are they supposed to kindly ask them to leave? And if they refuse, is there going to be a number to call or are they expected to sort of escort them outside the premises?”

LISTEN | Henry Assad talks about new mandatory mask rules 

Today Ottawa Public Health announced a mandatory mask order for indoor spaces. We talked to the owner of Happy Goat cafe about how this will change or affect the way his employees work. 10:37

He added that exemptions made for customers with pre-existing medical conditions also creates an element of uncertainty.

“If someone says, ‘Well, I have a respiratory illness, I don’t have to wear a mask’ … [Is] a business owner supposed to inform other customers so they’re comfortable with it?” Mallough said. “What is the onus there?”

Mallough said his organization wants to see mandatory mask rules applied fairly, adding that while it’s on business owners to attempt to implement such policies, bylaw officers and health officials also have roles to play. 

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