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Social media post highlights province's poor pandemic planning – Winnipeg Free Press

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Manitobans might still be in the dark about the details of a deadly outbreak at a nursing home last week, had it not been for an anonymous post on social media last week.

The fact an individual, identified as a Winnipeg paramedic in the post, had to speak out on the social media site Reddit Saturday to prompt provincial government officials to respond to this crisis should be deeply disturbing to Manitobans.

Make no mistake, had this person not blown the whistle, there would have been no public response over the weekend to the incident at Maples Long Term Care Home, nor probably any of the followup we’re now seeing by health officials.

The chain of events that followed the Reddit post was astonishing: multiple press conferences, admissions of failure by government, political buck-passing and finally, minimal measures put in place at some nursing homes.

Members of the Winnipeg Police Service Identification Unit enter the Maples personal care home on Saturday.

DANIEL CRUMP / FREE PRESS FILES

Members of the Winnipeg Police Service Identification Unit enter the Maples personal care home on Saturday.

Within hours of the story breaking (it was picked up almost immediately by media outlets), the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority called a rare weekend press conference, confirming most of the social media report. Gina Trinidad, the WRHA’s chief health operations officer, made the startling admission that the WRHA did not adequately prepare for the second wave of the pandemic to protect residents in personal care homes.

<img src="https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/NEP9000669.jpg" alt="Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service Chief John Lane confirmed Monday paramedics treated residents on Friday after a flurry of 911 calls.

“>

MIKE DEAL / FREE PRESS FILES

Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service Chief John Lane confirmed Monday paramedics treated residents on Friday after a flurry of 911 calls.

Jason Chester, vice-president of long-term care operations for Revera (the company that owns and operates Maples), claimed the home was fully staffed that evening. The information he presented was later shown to be false. But even he admitted the baseline complement was insufficient to handle the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The level of acuity and the care requirements certainly could be more robust,” said Chester.

On Sunday, Health Minister Cameron Friesen and Lanette Siragusa, Shared Health’s chief nursing officer, claimed they did everything possible to plan for the pandemic’s second wave in nursing homes, despite evidence to the contrary. Friesen blamed a lack of information brought to his office for his government’s failure to act earlier. He called for a further investigation into the Maples debacle.

None of this would have occurred without the Reddit post.

Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service Chief John Lane confirmed Monday paramedics treated residents on site Friday after a flurry of 911 calls. But a shortage of ambulances in Winnipeg prevented a more rapid response (a chronic problem that’s been ignored by the Pallister government for several years). The first ambulance arrived within minutes of the initial 7:10 p.m. call and paramedics transported a critically ill resident to hospital. But it took nearly three hours after that for the WFPS to arrive for an on-site assessment.

Manitoba’s emergency pandemic plan does not include an expansion of Winnipeg’s ambulance fleet (which would require provincial approval), even though the WRHA has increased its reliance on paramedics to support personal care homes.

The onion continued to unravel Monday when Siragusa revealed plans were made months ago to beef up staffing levels at personal care homes in the event of an outbreak. But those plans were never implemented, including at Maples, even in the aftermath of multiple outbreaks at nursing homes.

The WRHA did not start providing additional staffing resources to nursing homes until this week.

In a separate press conference, the WRHA revealed Maples operators requested staff support from the health authority prior to Nov. 6, but none was given. Only now is the WRHA assembling a clinical team to monitor nursing homes around the city.

All this after a single post on social media.

A defensive Premier Brian Pallister continued to complain Tuesday that his government has been unfairly criticized for its handling of the pandemic, calling such assessments “wrong.”

But he couldn’t explain how the province failed so badly to protect seniors in care homes, even though it was expected Manitoba would be hit with a second wave of COVID-19.

Scrambling to make changes following an anonymous post on social media is not emergency planning. It’s an indictment of how poorly the Pallister government has prepared for one of the worst disasters in Manitoba history.

tom.brodbeck@freepress.mb.ca

Tom Brodbeck

Tom Brodbeck
Columnist

Tom has been covering Manitoba politics since the early 1990s and joined the Winnipeg Free Press news team in 2019.

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Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai denied bail on fraud charge – CBC.ca

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Outspoken Hong Kong pro-democracy advocate and media tycoon Jimmy Lai was refused bail on Thursday on a fraud charge amid a growing crackdown on dissent in the semi-autonomous city.

Jimmy Lai of Next Digital, which publishes the Apple Daily newspaper, was among 10 people arrested Aug. 10 on what police said was suspicion of violating a national security law and collusion with a foreign country.

Lai, 73, was later released on bail but police raided his company’s offices in October and took away documents.

On Wednesday, Lai and two Next Digital executives were charged with fraud over accusations that they violated lease terms for Next Digital office space.

Lai appeared in court Thursday and was denied bail. His case has been adjourned until April 16.

Hong Kong police said in a statement Wednesday that they had arrested three men on charges of fraud, without naming them. Police also said that one of them had been suspected of violating the national security law, and that it was still under investigation.

Beijing imposed the national security law in response to protests in Hong Kong that began in June 2019 over a proposed extradition law and expanded to include demands for greater democracy in the former British colony.

Law undermines freedom of speech, says Britain

The sweeping legislation prompted more public protests and led to complaints that Beijing is violating the autonomy promised to Hong Kong when it returned to China and damaging its status as a business centre.

Apple Daily criticized the law on its front page on July 1, calling it the “final nail in the coffin” of the region’s autonomy.

The British government had slammed Lai’s August arrest and said the security law was being used to crush dissent.

The law is “being implemented in a way that undermines freedom of speech,” the British government said in a report this month on the status of the 1984 agreement for Hong Kong’s return to China.

“It is imperative that this freedom is fully respected,” the report said.

Lai was earlier arrested in February and April on charges of taking part in unauthorized protests. He also faces charges of joining an unauthorized vigil marking the anniversary of the June 4, 1989, crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

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Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai denied bail on fraud charge – OrilliaMatters

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HONG KONG — Outspoken Hong Kong pro-democracy advocate and media tycoon Jimmy Lai was refused bail on Thursday on a fraud charge amid a growing crackdown on dissent in the semi-autonomous city.

Jimmy Lai of Next Digital, which publishes the Apple Daily newspaper, was among 10 people arrested Aug. 10 on what police said was suspicion of violating a national security law and collusion with a foreign country.

Lai, 73, was later released on bail but police raided his company’s offices in October and took away documents.

On Wednesday, Lai and two Next Digital executives were charged with fraud over accusations that they violated lease terms for Next Digital office space.

Lai appeared in court Thursday and was denied bail. His case has been adjourned till April 16.

Hong Kong police said in a statement Wednesday that it had arrested three men on charges of fraud, without naming them. It also said that one of them had been suspected of violating the national security law, and that it was still under investigation.

Beijing imposed the national security law in response to protests in Hong Kong that began in June 2019 over a proposed extradition law and expanded to include demands for greater democracy in the former British colony.

The sweeping legislation prompted more public protests and led to complaints that Beijing is violating the autonomy promised to Hong Kong when it returned to China and damaging its status as a business centre.

Apple Daily criticized the law on its front page on July 1, calling it the “final nail in the coffin” of the territory’s autonomy.

The British government had slammed Lai’s August arrest and said the security law was being used to crush dissent.

The law is “being implemented in a way that undermines freedom of speech,” the British government said in a report this month on the status of the 1984 agreement for Hong Kong’s return to China.

“It is imperative that this freedom is fully respected,” the report said.

Lai was earlier arrested in February and April on charges of taking part in unauthorized protests. He also faces charges of joining an unauthorized vigil marking the anniversary of the June 4, 1989, crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

Zen Soo, The Associated Press


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Haligonians answer call on social media to show struggling eatery some love – CTV News Atlantic

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HALIFAX —
Dozens of people answered the dinner bell Tuesday in support of a struggling Mexican restaurant in Halifax’s north end.

A social media message about the difficulties facing Tako Loko prompted hungry Haligonians to line up down the street for a bite to eat.

On Wednesday, there was some extra prep work taking place in the kitchen at Tako Loko.

“Sold out, everything, so we’re going to do again … everything,” said owner Vicky Ruiz.

The spike in business was the result of one tweet that made the rounds on social media saying the owner is really struggling to keep the lights on and the doors open.

The result was a lineup of people down the street.

“I almost cried, I was happy, very happy because the people support us,” Ruiz said. “We had Uber Eats and we couldn’t take orders from Uber Eats and we couldn’t answer the phone because the line was two blocks here.”

Megan Smith and Nicole Carruthers live in the neighborhood and have been coming for months.

“It’s excellent,” they say.

It was so busy Smith and Carruthers couldn’t even place their usual order.

“I tried calling before five and they couldn’t take my order because they were that busy, it was awesome,” Smith said.

Some who couldn’t show up in person took up a neighbourhood collection and dropped the money off in a card.

The restaurant was scheduled to close at 9 p.m. but they actually ran out of food before that. Ruiz spent this morning at the grocery store, stocking up for tonight.

“It makes you proud of your local community, proud of Halifax and proud of people in the north end,” Carruthers said. “A lot of challenges have come out of this pandemic. It’s really nice to see people come out and supporting each other in a challenging time.”

Ruiz opened in March, just at the beginning of the pandemic. They stuck it out, but as COVID continued, the restaurant, like many others, started to struggle.

Ruiz has no plans to close her kitchen, and after the response yesterday, staying open will be much easier.

“I am a very hard worker and the people depend on this restaurant, they need a job,” Ruiz said.

Ruiz doesn’t know the person who put the post on social media but she has a message for him.

“Thank you, thank you, and free tacos for him,” she said.

He may however have to wait in line.

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