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Rally outside Mission prison calls for safe release of inmates amid pandemic – Powell River Peak

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MISSION, B.C. — A justice advocacy group says it wants prisoners at a federal institution in British Columbia ravaged by a COVID-19 outbreak to know there are people in the community fighting for their safety.

Meenakshi Mannoe of the Vancouver Prison Justice Day Committee says members were rallying outside Mission Institution Sunday and making noise from their cars or at a safe physical distance.

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The committee is calling for the urgent care of all prisoners across Canada and the immediate release of detainees to ensure adequate physical distancing and quarantine measures.

Inmates’ sentences should not include exposure to a potentially fatal respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, Mannoe said.

“However we feel about the crimes people do, they’re not supposed to be subject to further punishment inside,” she said.

“We want to let them know we’re out here making noise and we’re calling for action from all levels of government and the Correctional Service of Canada to make sure people have safe living conditions.”

The group is also calling for broader testing of all prisoners, and daily updates with details of the situation for their family members.

It is also among more than three dozen organizations demanding an immediate inquest into the death of an inmate at the prison last month.

Mission Institution is experiencing the largest prison outbreak in Canada. The B.C. government said Saturday that 133 inmates and staff have tested positive for COVID-19.

Across Canada, 290 federal inmates have been infected, with 155 having recovered, according to federal figures released Saturday.

There were 41 active cases among correctional officers among a total of 84 who have tested positive since the pandemic began, the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers said Saturday.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said in a statement Sunday that the government knows correctional institutions face unique vulnerabilities during public health emergency.

“The situation around COVID-19 is both challenging and rapidly evolving, and our response will continue to adapt as required,” Blair said.

The Correctional Service of Canada said in a statement that it’s working to limit the spread of the virus at each of its prisons.

Inmates who show symptoms or test positive for COVID-19 are medically isolated and both staff and inmates are provided with masks and information about how to use them, it said. Enhanced cleaning protocols are in place, including disinfecting common areas and high-contact surfaces.

“Every effort is made to provide inmates on medical isolation with as much time out of cell as possible while respecting strong infection and prevention principles in order to contain the spread of COVID-19,” it said in an emailed statement.

The correctional service has also suspended visits, temporary absences unless medically necessary and all inter-regional and international transfers of inmates.

On April 25, the correctional service said all inmates at the medium-security Mission prison had been tested for the virus, although new cases continue to be identified.

Based on expert recommendations, the prison installed new hand-washing stations, boosted hygiene supplies and now has nurses at the site around the clock and physician coverage every day.

“These are unprecedented times and we are working diligently, and often around the clock, to prevent the spread of the virus. The situation around COVID-19 is both challenging and rapidly evolving and we continue to adapt our response and do everything in our power to keep our employees and inmates safe,” the correctional service says in a statement.

The Vancouver Prison Justice Day Committee organized its first rally outside Mission Institution following an inmate’s death on April 15 from apparent complications related to COVID-19.

Before the pandemic, the group organized an annual memorial for prisoners who have died behind bars.

When the committee calls for the release of inmates, it doesn’t mean simply setting people free, Mannoe said. It means allowing them space to self-isolate or quarantine with community supports in place for rehabilitation.

“We need to release people into communities in a safe and just way that services the prisoners themselves and the people who have been impacted by their harm,” Mannoe said.

“I’m not saying open the doors, I’m saying let’s resource people and get them out of a system that’s not serving them and a system that a lot of survivors (of crime) would also say doesn’t necessarily lead to justice on their end.”

A COVID-positive prisoner at Joliette Institute in Quebec filed a proposed class-action lawsuit on April 21 against Correctional Service Canada’s handling of the pandemic.

On April 23, the Correctional Service of Canada said it was “conducting an analysis of the offender population” so it could make release recommendations.

The Parole Board of Canada said it had been trying to streamline processes and speed up decisions. In some cases, parolees might be allowed to move home instead of to a halfway house, the board said.

To combat possible infections in its prisons, Newfoundland and Labrador has released 65 inmates under the public health emergency the province declared on March 18. So far, the province’s jails have been COVID-free.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 3, 2020.

— By Amy Smart in Vancouver.

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Two deaths, eight new cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Two more residents of Ottawa have died due to COVID-19, while eight new cases of the virus have been detected.

Ottawa Public Health announced the new cases in its daily epidemiology update on Thursday afternoon.

Since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Ottawa on March 11, there has been 1,930 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, including 240 deaths.

Thirty-seven residents are currently in hospital for treatment of COVID-19.

The median age of the COVID-19 cases in Ottawa is 56-years-old. The youngest case involved a four-month-old.

Recovering from COVID-19

Ottawa Public Health says 80 per cent of COVID-19 cases are now resolved.

The report shows 1,544 people have recovered after testing positive for COVID-19.

There are currently 146 active cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa.

Source of COVID-19

Half of Ottawa’s 1,930 cases of COVID-19 are linked to an outbreak in a retirement home, long-term care home, group home, hospital or shelter.

Ottawa Public Health says 975 cases are linked to an institutional outbreak.

A total of 426 cases, 22 per cent, are linked to close contact with a known case or linked to a community outbreak.

The report shows 10 per cent of COVID-19 cases, 183 cases, are linked to community transmission of the virus.

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PoCo care home latest with COVID-19 outbreak, special team sent to Langley Lodge – CityNews Vancouver

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PORT COQUITLAM (NEWS 1130 — A resident at a long-term care home in Port Coquitlam has tested positive for COVID-19, while the Fraser Health Authority is taking extra measures to control further spread and deaths at Langley Lodge.

To date, 22 Langley Lodge residents have died from virus, more than at any other care home in B.C.

The first reported case of COVID-19 was at the Lynn Valley Care Centre, where 20 people died from the virus. The outbreak there involved 76 cases, but was declared over earlier this month.

RELATED: Two more Langley Lodge residents die from COVID-19

Nicola Lodge, a long-term care facility in Port Coquitlam, reported its first case Thursday.

The resident is in isolation, according to Fraser Health.

The health authority has implemented enhanced control measures at the site.

Fraser Health has also appointed a director of pandemic response at Langley Lodge.

“The COVID-19 outbreak has been challenging to control at Langley Lodge due to complex factors, such as the outbreak being on a behavioral stabilization unit,” Fraser Healths says.

“We have been working very closely with Langley Lodge and this decision was made to further support the facility leadership and staff.”

As well, Fraser Health has deployed an ultraviolet germicidal irradiation machine, along with infection control specialists, and additional nurses and care staff at Langley Lodge.

According to latest update from the lodge, 10 staff members, including two from the health region, have contracted the virus, while one resident remains sick. Of all the cases, 22 people have fully recovered.

As of Wednesday, the province reported 14 outbreaks remained active in long-term care or assisted-living facilities, as well as one in an acute-care unit.

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Playgrounds, outdoor facilities reopening across the Lower Mainland – Globalnews.ca

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As the weather gets nicer, a number of municipalities in Metro Vancouver are re-opening playgrounds and parks that were closed because of COVID-19.

Vancouver

Starting Friday, the Vancouver Park Board will begin reopening more than 320 outdoor recreation amenities including skate parks, synthetic sports fields, basketball and volleyball courts, disc golf, roller hockey, multi-sport courts, and 166 playgrounds.

The park board says playgrounds will be open across the city by Monday, June 1, in alignment with the Vancouver School Board’s resumption of in-class learning.

In recent weeks, the park board has reopened Fraserview, McCleery and Langara golf courses, VanDusen Botanical Garden, as well as tennis and pickleball courts.


READ MORE:
Vancouver begins to reopen, tennis, pickleball courts

Surrey

On Monday, 125 playgrounds throughout Surrey’s park system, and all playgrounds within the Surrey School district’s 101 elementary schools will be re-opened.

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The City of Surrey is also re-opening its skate parks.

New Westminster

In New Westminster, select playgrounds will start to reopen on Monday.

The first ones to reopen were identified based on their proximity to public washrooms where handwashing can take place both before and after using the playground.

The city says on Monday, June 1, playgrounds at Moody Park, Port Royal and Quayside Park will reopen, and playgrounds at Queen’s Park, Hume Park, Sapperton Park, Westminster Pier Park, and Grimston Park will reopen throughout the week. The remaining playgrounds will gradually reopen over the summer.

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All spray parks will remain closed until further notice.

Maple Ridge

City staff in Maple Ridge are asking everyone to stay off the playgrounds until Monday to allow staff to complete safety checks of each site before reopening.

The city has opened its skate parks, disc golf, running tracks, tennis courts, pickleball courts, sports fields, bike skills and lacrosse boxes for informal and casual use. This means they are not accepting bookings for organized practices or games at this time.

Portable washrooms will also be placed in parks and permanent public washrooms are reopening with enhanced cleaning protocols.

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The city says the following facilities remain closed:

  • Basketball Courts
  • Hammond Outdoor Pool
  • Maple Ridge Leisure Centre
  • Greg Moore Youth Centre


READ MORE:
“It costs the taxpayer”: Some Vancouver playgrounds fenced off due to COVID-19 scofflaws

Port Coquitlam

Port Coquitlam playgrounds, picnic shelters and outdoor fitness equipment in Gates Park and along the Traboulay PoCo Trail will reopen by the weekend.

Coquitlam

As of June 1, Coquitlam will reopen its playgrounds, sport courts (including basketball, lacrosse and volleyball) and outdoor fitness equipment.

“A collaborative reopening of these facilities makes sense so that we’re all sending the same message to our communities,” said Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart in a release. “In the same vein, we’re looking to our residents to cooperate by using these amenities safely and responsibly, and continuing to follow the direction of health officials.”

Port Moody

Port Moody will reopen its outdoor playgrounds, basketball and sport courts and the Westhill Park lacrosse box on June 1.

Anmore

Anmore has recently reopened their playground and tennis courts, as well as the parking lot adjacent to Spirit Park.

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School District #43

Playgrounds at all School District #43 schools will reopen June 1.

“As children return to school, it will be important for them to be able to play outside to stay healthy and active,” said School District Supt. Patricia Gartland in a release.

Spray parks remain closed across the Tri-Cities, while sports fields are open for informal use only by small groups.


READ MORE:
Public playgrounds closed in Lower Mainland to fight coronavirus

Delta

On Monday, playgrounds and basketball hoops in the City of Delta will reopen. This includes playgrounds on Delta School District property and basketball hoops shortly after.

Surrey

All 125 playgrounds throughout the city’s park system and all playgrounds at the district’s 101 elementary schools will reopen Monday.

The City of Surrey is also reopening its skate parks. The following eight skate parks will be reopened for May 30 with physical distancing requirements and size limits for the number of users:

  • Bear Creek Park
  • Royal Kwantlen Park
  • Fraser Heights Park
  • Cloverdale Fairgrounds
  • South Surrey Athletic Park
  • Tom Binnie Park
  • Surrey Sport & Leisure Complex
  • Guildford Recreation Centre

Using playgrounds and outdoor facilities

Municipalities are asking everyone who wants to use the playgrounds and outdoor facilities to maintain two metres distance from others not in your household, to wash and sanitize your hands frequently, disinfect personal equipment before and after use, do not share equipment and to stay home if you are sick.

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

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