Muskoka Indigenous women frustrated with federal election campaign

Three First Nations women from Muskoka have spoken out to say they are angry and frustrated they are not hearing more from candidates on Indigenous issues during the federal election campaign. All three said they are exasperated that the news cycle in 2021 is so short Indigenous issues — front page news earlier this summer — have now been pushed to the back burner even during a national election. That includes the discovery this summer of the remains of hundreds of Indigenous children who were buried in unmarked graves at the sites of former . While recognizing COVID-19 is dominating much of the headlines during the campaign — they point out Indigenous people have been more adversely affected by the pandemic than the rest of the population, yet they’ve been largely left out of that conversation. Port Carling-based lawyer Trisha Cowie said there is currently no shortage of issues affecting Indigenous people and their relationship with Canada. She believes this election is critical if there is ever going to be progress on reconciliation. “I do not speak for all Indigenous people, but for me, the No. 1 issue is following up on the in the Truth and Reconciliation report. Also important is moving forward on the recommendations coming out of the ,” Cowie said. “These are serious issues affecting our people whether they live off-reserve or on the territory. Governments have to stop handing off Indigenous issues to the next government. We need leaders with power and vision and I am not seeing that.” Cowie added perhaps the most pressing local Indigenous issue is the legal battle with the federal and provincial governments over provisions and rights in the . If Canadian governments are serious about reconciliation they must end these protracted, expensive legal battles in court and stop treating treaty obligations as social policy, she said. Former Huntsville resident Lorelei Isaacs-Bacon, who now lives in Bracebridge, said she is stunned by how quickly the residential school burial site tragedies have been pushed to the back pages. Along with Cowie, she helped organize a ceremony at River Mill Park in June where hundreds of signs, made by Muskoka students mourning those innocent victims, were planted in the ground. “I’m not hearing anything from these politicians about how there can be reconciliation and healing on the residential schools tragedy. When is it going to happen?” Issacs-Bacon asked. “There is also the ongoing problem of clean water on reserves — a huge issue that I am not hearing enough about. This is really about telling the truth and our voice being heard,” she said. “Too many Canadians don’t understand the hurt and pain Indigenous people across the country are feeling, or they don’t care. It’s maybe not entirely their fault. I do not hear the federal leaders talking nearly enough about Indigenous peoples and their relationship with Canada.” Huntsville Indigenous activist Joyce Jonathan Crone has been drawing attention to Indigenous issues all summer by setting up a memorial to residential school victims in River Mill Park. Unfortunately, it keeps getting vandalized without anyone being caught. She said she is saddened by that but is also frustrated there does not seem to be much talk or debate about Indigenous issues by the candidates in . “It’s not good enough for them to refer us to their national party websites. I would like to hear what the local candidates themselves are saying about these critical Indigenous issues,” Jonathan Crone said. Local candidates shared their thoughts on Indigenous issues in this newspaper’s Sept 3. THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: All Canadians should be concerned about Canada’s relationship with its Indigenous people, especially during a federal election. Our reporter connected with local Indigenous women to share their thoughts on the election and how Indigenous issues are being represented.

How many school board employees and trustees are vaccinated against COVID-19?

More than 86 per cent of employees and trustees have attested to being fully immunized against COVID-19. The number is 68 per cent within the . Ontario’s chief medical officer of health requires all publicly funded school boards in the province to implement a COVID-19 immunization disclosure policy for the 2021-22 school year. The local boards have released the data and will update it monthly. Those who are not fully vaccinated, must complete COVID-19 rapid antigen testing twice per week. And, those who do not intend to be vaccinated without a documented medical reason, are required to participate in an education session provided by the about the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination. SIMCOE COUNTY DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD The vaccine policy applies to 6,667 board employees and trustees; of which 5,792 say they are vaccinated (86.8 per cent). It also applies to 723 “other individuals,” of which 575 say they are vaccinated (79.5 per cent). The “other individuals” category includes those frequently in schools or other settings who may have direct contact with students or staff. For example: contractors, social workers, other professionals, and student transport staff. These numbers include those with and without supporting documentation, states the board. Provided a documented medical reason for not being fully vaccinated: two people in the “employees and trustees” category. Not yet submitted an attestation form: 375 within the “employees and trustees” category (5.6 per cent) and 148 in the “other individuals” category (20.5 per cent). Simcoe County District School Board vaccination disclosure data is available here: . SIMCOE MUSKOKA CATHOLIC DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD The vaccine policy applies to 3,523 board employees and trustees; of which 2,392 say they are vaccinated (68 per cent). It also applies to 783 “other individuals,” of which 623 say they are vaccinated (79.6 per cent). The “other individuals” category includes those frequently in schools or other settings who may have direct contact with students or staff. For example: contractors, other professionals and student transport staff. These numbers include those with and without supporting documentation, states the board. Provided a documented medical reason for not being fully vaccinated: seven people in the “employees and trustees” category. Not fully immunized for a reason other than medical: 236 in the “board employees and trustees” category (6.6 per cent) and 160 in the “other individuals” category (20.4 per cent). Not yet submitted an attestation form: 888 within the ‘employees and trustees’ category and zero in the “other individuals” category. Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board vaccination disclosure data is available here: . CONSEIL SCOLAIRE VIAMONDE The vaccine policy applies to 2,739 board employees and trustees; of which 1,702 say they are vaccinated (62 per cent). It also applies to 2,358 “other individuals,” of which 1,654 say they are vaccinated (71 per cent). The “other individuals” category includes those frequently in schools or other settings who may have direct contact with students or staff. For example: contractors, social workers, other professionals, and student transport staff. These numbers include those with and without supporting documentation, states the board. Provided a documented medical reason for not being fully vaccinated: Five people in the “other individuals” category (0.2 per cent). Not yet submitted an attestation form: 859 people in the “employees and trustees” category (31 per cent). This information is not yet available in the “other individuals” category.  Conseil Scolaire Viamonde vaccination disclosure data is available here: . MONAVENIR CATHOLIC SCHOOL BOARD The vaccine policy applies to 2,571 board employees and trustees; of which 1,708 say they are vaccinated (66.4 per cent). Number of partially vaccinated people: 98 (3.8 per cent) Provided a documented medical reason for not being fully vaccinated: 11 people (0.4 per cent). Number of people who do not plan to be vaccinated, without a medical reason to justify it: 119 (4.6 per cent). Not yet submitted an attestation form: 635 (24.7 per cent). MonAvenir Catholic School Board vaccination disclosure data is available here: .

Ontario Liberals demand action from Ford on hospital protests

Following days of demonstrations outside Ontario hospitals, the provincial Liberals are calling on Premier Doug Ford to take tougher action on pandemic protesters.  The party released a on Sept. 14 and addressed a the next day urging him to adopt the measures laid out in the plan and meet with Ontario’s chiefs of police and opposition leaders to discuss other potential solutions to the problem of conspiracy theory and anti-vaccine protest groups.  “When angry mobs assemble outside our hospitals, it’s time to say enough. Vulnerable cancer patients are being exposed to the angry unvaccinated, our exhausted front-line health-care heroes are being intimidated, and acts of aggression are occurring at an increasingly alarming rate across the province,” reads the letter signed by Ontario Liberal Party leader Steven Del Duca. “The vaccinated majority are rightly discouraged and dismayed by these developments as case numbers continue to climb, and need to see strong leadership to combat radicalization.” The province has not taken any formal steps to address protests outside health-care facilities, but Deputy Premier Christine Elliott condemned the actions of demonstrators as “unfortunate” during an update on the province’s last mile vaccination strategy on Sept. 14. “This is very demoralizing to our front-line health-care workers who have been working flat out to save people’s lives for the last 18 months,” Elliott said. “It’s just very unfortunate that this is happening with the protesters, and we would ask them to please think about the great work our front-line health-care workers are doing and please stop these protests.” The plan calls on the province to adopt the following measures: Promoting vaccine acceptance and combating misinformation  The plan calls on Ford to convene a meeting on the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police to discuss how to “protect communities from anti-vax abuse, harassment, violence and blocked access to services” while ensuring the right to public assembly is also protected. It also asks for the establishment of temporary exclusion zones around hospital entrances to help patients and staff move more freely in and out of hospitals.  It calls for the province to work with the federal government to counter misinformation and disinformation regarding vaccines and the pandemic, invest in public health education and outreach for communities where vaccine confidence is low, and add requirements for the use of COVID-19 vaccine certificates as a regulation under the Emergency Act.  Strengthening vaccine mandates  The plan challenges Ford to remove “testing loopholes” for those without medical or Ontario Human Rights Code exemptions in vaccine mandates for health care and education workers; mandate vaccines on all provincially regulated trains and buses, for both passengers and operators; mandate vaccines for all employees of workplaces where customers are required to be vaccinated; and provide workers with 10 provincially funded paid sick days. It also calls on Ford to mandate vaccines for students born in 2009 or earlier and establish public health unit vaccine programs in every school.  Preparing for the next phase of the pandemic The plan asks Ford to make pandemic recovery investments, including an increase in funding to colleges and universities to expand health-care programs, increased access to at-home testing for all Ontarians and increased support for COVID-19 burdened hospitals. It also calls for a comprehensive plan for the mass immunization of children born after 2009 and a revised timeline for increased capacities under the new vaccine certificate guideline, as well as additional financial support for small businesses.

Health Canada expands major recall of salads sold at Sobeys, FreshCo, Foodland, Walmart and other grocery stores over possible Listeria contamination

Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has expanded a recall of salads sold at several well-known grocery stores over Listeria fears. The food recall warning issued on August 26, 2021 has been updated to include additional product information, according to the CFIA. There are now This additional information was identified during the CFIA’s food safety investigation. Curation Foods is recalling Eat Smart brand Chopped Salad Kits from the marketplace due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. “Consumers should not consume the recalled products,” the CFIA said. Sobeys has already confirmed some of the locations, while “If you think you became sick from consuming a recalled product, call your doctor,” the CFIA said. “Check to see if you have the recalled products in your home. Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased.” Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick. Symptoms can include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle aches, severe headache and neck stiffness, the CFIA said. Pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk. Although infected pregnant women may experience only mild, flu-like symptoms, the infection can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn or even stillbirth. In severe cases of illness, people may die, added the CFIA. The CFIA is conducting a “food safety investigation,” which may lead to the recall of other products. If other “high-risk products” are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings, it said. The CFIA is verifying that industry is removing the recalled products from the marketplace. Theer have been no reported illnesses as of yet. Here are photos of some of the recalled products.

Barrie expands HotSpot parking app to include monthly, annual passes

A little more steak has been added to the HotSpot parking app’s sizzle. The City of Barrie just expanded the app to allow for the purchase of monthly and annual passes for green and yellow municipal parking lots. — but other traditional options and hang tags are still available. “Providing the ability to purchase monthly and annual parking passes for yellow and green downtown parking lots passes through the HotSpot parking app provides enhanced public access to parking services through this online application and reduces wait time for counter service transactions at Service Barrie,” city transit and parking director Brent Forsyth said in a . Staff are working on digital enhancements to the city’s waterfront and neighbourhood resident parking pass programs, he said. The pass option gives customers an opportunity to purchase and cancel at any time. There’s also an automatic renewal function and 24-hour customer service. HotSpot was introduced as an online payment method for parking within the downtown core, waterfront, and on Gallie Court and Quarry Ridge Road near Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre earlier this year. To sign up for a HotSpot account, visit .

What’s the difference between the parties’ child-care plans? For some Toronto families it could be $10,000 a year

OTTAWA—A Toronto family that pays full-fees for an infant in licensed daycare could save $10,000 more per year under the Liberal child care plan than with the tax credit the Conservatives are proposing, according to an independent analysis of the policies. The published Friday by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives assumes the New Democratic Party’s child-care proposal — which is outlined as “universal $10-a-day child care” in the — is identical to the $30-billion program the Liberals already started implementing with seven provinces and one territory before the election was called on Aug. 15. The Liberals have pledged these agreements will see average fees for regulated child care cut in half by the end of 2022 and result in $10-a-day care by 2026. Erin O’Toole’s Conservatives, on the other hand, have promised to bring in a tax credit to cover up to $6,000 in child-care expenses for families earning less than $150,000. According to economist David Macdonald, who authored Friday’s policy analysis, the Conservatives’ proposal would cost the federal government less money but result in fewer savings for most families that pay for child care. The Conservatives’ tax credit would cost the federal government around $2.3 billion in 2022, the study says, while the average family with children in daycare would receive around $500 to $1,000 a year. In Toronto, where daycare fees are among the most expensive in Canada, families are paying an average of $22,000 per year for each infant in licensed daycare, Macdonald said. That means, if the province signed on to the Liberal/NDP child-care plan and costs were cut in half next year, these families would save roughly $11,000. That’s $10,000 more than the average payout under the Conservatives’ tax credit, Macdonald said. The Liberal plan would cost more than $3 billion in 2022, with annual costs increasing to more than $8 billion in the 2025-26 fiscal year. Average families with infants in licensed care in other cities in the Greater Toronto Area, British Columbia and Alberta would also save between $5,000 and $8,000 more per year, per child under the Liberal/NDP plan than the Conservatives’ proposal, said the study, which included an analysis of costs in 37 cities across the country. “It’s a huge difference,” Macdonald said, adding that the gap is especially stark in cities like Toronto. Of course, the savings discussed in Macdonald’s report hinge on whether the Liberal/NDP plan would apply in Ontario. The province did not sign a deal with the federal government before the election. Jennifer Robson, a professor of political management at Carleton University, also cautioned that Macdonald’s analysis does not factor in provincial subsidies that some families receive in Ontario for child care — meaning the large savings in places like Toronto wouldn’t apply to all families. The analysis also assumes the existing Ontario provincial child-care tax credit would apply to families that spend more than $8,000 each year on daycare. Robson also raised the question of child-care spaces, stating that the Conservative tax credit wouldn’t do anything to increase capacity, whereas the Liberals’ deals with provinces are meant to bring in more staff and spots for more kids in regulated child care. Gordon Cleveland, an emeritus associate professor of economics at the University of Toronto, said the main difference is that the $10-a-day vision would create a “system” for affordable child care by expanding regulated spaces, while the Conservative tax credit would cover a portion of child-care costs for fewer people without accompanying efforts to increase capacity for child-care programs across the country. The policy analysis concludes around 6,600 households across Canada would receive the maximum annual $6,000 tax credit under the Conservatives’ plan. According to data from Statistics Canada, at least half of families with kids five and under in 2020 had their children in licensed child care centres where the Liberal/NDP savings would apply. “With the tax credit, child-care affordability will definitely be improved,” but the savings it would bring “pales in comparison” to those under $10-a-day child care, Cleveland said. Cleveland also said the Conservatives’ plan would be less effective at reducing barriers to women in the workforce. That’s because high child-care costs can discourage some parents — usually mothers, Cleveland said — from entering the labour force, since the wages they earn might not sufficiently exceed daycare fees. With less-generous savings under the proposed tax credit, Cleveland said the party is leaving “the barrier to entering the labour force very high.” For Robson, the Carleton professor, Canadians shouldn’t have to choose between the plans — she argued people should expect governments to create more regulated child-care spaces at the same time as they increase tax credits aimed to help families with lower incomes. “Why the hell can’t I have both, right?” she asked. “I want tax treatment of my child-care expenses … and I want to know that governments are working together to actually make more quality spaces.”