Keeping calm and vigilant, and maintaining our humanity by looking out for each other, will get us through this

News 100 redBy Staff

March 15th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

City Hall announced Friday afternoon that all public indoor facilities were being closed.

The purpose of this closure is to slow the spread of the virus by reducing the amount of personal contact.

Burlington activated its Crisis Management Team (CMT) to coordinate City efforts to protect public and staff from the spread of COVID-19, while maintaining essential City services to the community.

To aid efforts in reducing the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the community, the City of Burlington has made the decision to close all City recreation facilities for a minimum of three weeks, as of this evening (Friday).

With the recreation facility closures, the following services will be suspended: March Break programming, arenas, pools and community centres, including the Seniors Centre.

All City organized large public meetings and gatherings are also cancelled, with the exception of Committee and Council meetings at City Hall.

The CMT will be reviewing internal City meeting guidelines and issuing an update on Monday, March 16. City Hall will remain open for business with enhanced health and safety protocols for staff.

Some members of Council had difficulty with the way city handled the release of the decision on Friday afternoon.

Some residents expressed concerns at the way the city handled the COVID19 problem.

One resident felt that

“essential services should be clearly identified in the disaster management plan which should be reviewed and updated annually.

“A chief spokesperson on these issues should be clearly identified. An upper echelon planning team comprising key municipal employees should be identified.

“A protocol should be in place to deal with the redeployment of human resources to critical and essential functions. Most importantly, there should be regular ongoing tests and exercises to practice and evaluate emergency responsiveness and to refine protocols where necessary.

“We’ve been through SARS. We’ve been through 9-11. We’ve been through the 2013 ice storm, and the 2014 flood. Protocols and measures on how to deal with emergencies and contingencies should have been in place long before now. The City shouldn’t be cobbling this together in the midst of a pandemic at the 11th hour.”

There does not appear to be a single spokesperson. News comes out of city hall with a comment from both the Mayor and the City Manager.

There is not yet a single place one call send an email to or call for information in Burlington. The Regional 311 service is limited in what it can provide.

The Regional Police are screening all telephone calls.

The Regional Medical Officer of Health has chosen to use “privacy” as a reason for not providing information or saying a matter is “under investigation.”

curve 2What the public does have going for it is common sense and listening to what the science has to tell us.

Return to the Front page

Third Burlington resident tested positive COVID19

News 100 redBy Staff

March 15th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A female resident from Burlington in her 50s returned from Los Angeles on March 8.

She became symptomatic on March 9 and presented to Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington for testing on March 12. As per established infection prevention and control protocols, the hospital took all precautions, including testing in an isolated environment with all necessary personal protective equipment. On March 13, she was notified of her positive test result and is now self-isolating at home.

Halton Region Public Health is actively engaged in contact tracing and case management. The individual was not symptomatic on the flight.

Dr Meghani at news conference Hamilton

Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Medical Officer of Health.

“While the risk is low, we can expect to see more cases in our community and we are prepared for that,” said Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Medical Officer of Health. “We are closely monitoring the situation and continue to take thoughtful action where
appropriate.”

“The individual was tested at Joseph Brant Hospital in an isolated environment.

Our care team continues to follow all necessary infection prevention protocols and procedures,” said Eric Vandewall, President and Chief Executive Officer at Joseph Brant Hospital. “We are taking all necessary precautions as we screen and care for residents of Halton, and keep our patients, our visitors, our physicians and staff safe.”

Return to the Front page

Police seeking information on Hate Crime Incident in Burlington

Crime 100By Staff

March 13th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON
The Halton Regional Police Service is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying two suspects responsible for an assault that took place in the area of Headon Road and Headon Forest Drive in the City of Burlington.

HRPS crestOn March 11, 2020, at approximately 2:00pm, a 27 year old male victim was walking westbound on Headon Forest Drive and observed an older model Green Honda CRV drive by him.

The driver of this vehicle directed homophobic comments towards the victim. The suspect vehicle then proceeded to turn around and stopped at a townhouse complex at Headon Road and Headon Forest Drive. The driver and his passenger then exited the vehicle and approached the victim, continuing to engage in homophobic slurs directed at the victim. The driver and passenger then became physically violent by pushing and punching the victim. Both suspects then fled the scene in the same vehicle.

The victim managed to walk home and eventually attended the Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital where he was diagnosed with a minor concussion and injuries to his face and torso. The victim was treated and released from hospital.

Police are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying the suspects responsible for this hate crime incident.

Suspect #1 (passenger) – Male, white, 16-20 years of age, average build, 5’8″, approximately 180lbs with light black facial hair wearing a brown beanie cap.

Suspect #2 (driver) – Male, olive complexion, 16-20 years of age, thin build, 5’10” with short black curly hair.

Suspect vehicle is described as a forest green older model Honda CRV with a faded older paint job. (1997-2001 year model).

The Halton Regional Police Service condemns any/all such incidents that impact or erode the community’s sense of safety and well-being.

The HRPS are investigating this offence as a crime that willfully promotes hatred. We are appealing to the public to come forward with any information that would assist us in determining the person(s) responsible.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Jared McLeod at 905-825-4777 ext. 2385 or Detective Constable Blair Bolton at 905-825-4777 ext. 2323 from the 3 District Criminal Investigations Bureau.

Tips can also be submitted to Crime Stoppers “See Something? Hear Something? Know Something? Contact Crime Stoppers” at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.ca.

Return to the Front page

Ireland House and Brant Museum to be closed for three weeks

eventsred 100x100By Staff

March 13th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Due to recent developments regarding COVID-19, it has been decided that the Museums of Burlington will be closed for three weeks, from March 14 – April 5.

det

Ireland House – closed along with Brant Museum closed for three weeks.

All museum events and programs, including March Break Camps are cancelled or postponed. Full refunds will be processed as soon as possible.

The Museum had earlier said it would remain open.

Return to the Front page

City shuts down all recreational facilities for three weeks

Newsflash 100By Staff

March 13th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Earlier today, the City of Burlington activated its Crisis Management Team (CMT) to coordinate City efforts to protect public and staff from the spread of COVID-19, while maintaining essential City services to the community.

To aid efforts in reducing the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the community, the City of Burlington has made the decision to close all City recreation facilities for a minimum of three weeks, as of this evening.

With the recreation facility closures, the following services will be suspended: March Break programming, arenas, pools and community centres, including the Seniors Centre.

All City organized large public meetings and gatherings are also cancelled, with the exception of Committee and Council meetings at City Hall.

The CMT will be reviewing internal City meeting guidelines and issuing an update on Monday, March 16. City Hall will remain open for business with enhanced health and safety protocols for staff.

Mayor Meed Ward

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward said: “In light of the current situation with COVID-19 and the rapidly changing updates from healthcare professionals and our partners across all levels of government, I certainly understand and share the concerns of residents related to attending programs and events at City facilities.

“We are evaluating things daily — and sometimes multiple times during the day — and will always put residents’ health and safety first. The decision to close City recreation facilities for next three weeks and cancel programs including March Break, does not come lightly, but in meeting with our Crisis Management Team, we feel it is a necessary one. Please continue to look after your health, follow the advice of healthcare professionals and support one another. Let’s always be our best through these trying times.”

Commisso stare

Tim Commisso, City Manager

Tim Commisso, City Manager added:  “At the City of Burlington, we understand the decision to close recreational facilities will have a significant impact on individuals, families and communities.

“We are also very aware that this needs to be done as a precaution to help keep people in Burlington stay safe and aid in containing the spread of COVID-19. We continue to work closely with Halton Region Public Health and make our decisions based on the latest scientific evidence on COVID-19. We thank our residents for their understanding as we continue to address this challenge together. We will continue to share City updates daily with the public.”

Return to the Front page

We need to take care of ourselves: know the signs that suggest you might be coming down with the virus. Then get tested.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 13th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

BREAKING NEWS: At noon: 20 more cases confirmed in Ontario, taking the provincial total to 79.

The Pandemic, something we have not seen in more than 100 years, is upon us.

The biggest tool we have going for us is our own individual behavior.

The covid curve

Individual protective measures are the strongest tool we have at this point. Take care of yourself.

Our different levels of government have the job of keeping us informed.

This is a manageable situation.  Letting any sense of panic prevail is the worst thing we can do.  There is plenty of toilet paper inventory.

Watch for and pay attention to the latest health, safety, and cleanliness protocols to protect yourself.

The evidence seems to suggest that the more vulnerable are at the highest risk. Older people with existing health problems are going to need extra help.  Determine who those people are in your life and make time for them.

At this point our biggest problem for many households is what they are going to do with the kids with schools closed for the next three weeks.

And at the same time – taking care of yourselves.

Limit the time you spend with large groups.  Ontario’s chief medical officer Dr. David Williams says to “avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada” and the “immediate suspension” of all gatherings over 250 people because of the risks of coronavirus.

Wash your hands – often!

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. …
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. …
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • cbc graphic

 

 

 

Return to the Front page

Coping with COVID19 - having a plan and working that plan: Law firm does it right

News 100 redBy Staff

March 13th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

When the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus) a pandemic there were different reactions from different sectors of society.

The city of Burlington said their Emergency Management Team was meeting to outline plans and that there was a Rapid Response Team in place.

Gowlings WLD, a national law firm with an office in Hamilton put out a message for their clients. It is a model of what can and should be done. It is clear that Gowlings has been preparing for a situation like this.

Peter Lukasiewicz, Chief Executive Officer at Gowlings explains the approach the law firm has taken.

Gowling logoFrom numerous public health measures to ongoing market turmoil, it’s no secret that the virus continues to take a major toll on populations and businesses around the world — and our clients in Canada and around the world.

Given these circumstances, I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you that Gowling WLG has been preparing for this unfolding situation since it first began to develop and we are positioned to assist you with the many unforeseen challenges you may face as a result of it.

How we have been preparing our firm
Gowling WLG has a robust continuity strategy in place designed to mitigate potential interruptions to our business — even during the most challenging of times. As circumstances change, we continue to adapt our plans and protocols to address the safety of our people, our clients, and others with whom we work.

All of our offices across Canada and around the world are open. We will apprise you of any changes to the delivery of our services — at the moment, there are none.

How we are helping clients
virus imageIn response to the outbreak of COVID-19, our firm has assembled a global taskforce to help clients navigate the many legal and business obstacles that have occurred as a result of the virus. With a view to further assisting our clients, we have also launched an online COVID-19 resource centre comprising timely thought leadership relevant to a range of sectors, as well as a list of key contacts ready to assist you. We will continue to update this page on a regular basis.

As we all continue to monitor the impact and progress of the pandemic, know that our thoughts are with everyone whose lives and businesses have been affected to date.

Return to the Front page

City manager informs council on what his office is doing with the COVID19 pandemic - focus is on informing public and business continuity

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 12th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

They were minutes away from breaking for lunch when City Manager Tim Commisso asked if he could say a few words on the COVID19 situation.

Rory Nisan, who was chairing the Standing Committee on Corporate Services, Strategy, Risk and Accountability was about to ask if that could be covered after lunch when Commisso began to explain that the city was going to be communicating daily on what the issues were and what the city was doing about COVID 19 – a second case had been announced earlier.

Tim Commisso - finger up hard eyes

City manager Tim Commisso

He pointed out that the Region was the health authority but that the city had to think about such things as operations, keeping places clean and policy issues.

Treasurer Joan Ford explained that she was creating cost centres to keep track of spending while Commisso talked about business continuity and the level of services the city was going to be able to deliver.

There was a concern over what could happen on the revenue side if Parks and Recreation had to refund fees that have been paid. Commisso wanted to ensure that no one got hit with any out of pocket expense.

Commisso also wanted to know what the public felt they needed to know.
His office is thinking through the delineation of essential services and determining what events the city departments have planned and if they should take place.

The province may well decide, he said, to limit how and where people meet and the municipal sector would have to enforce the provincial decisions.

The city has yet to create a point that people can email or call to voice their concerns.

Commisso will be working full out to cobble together the teams of people he is going to need to see us through this situation.

There are two committees in place. The Emergency Management Committee and a Rapid Response committee that has been meeting.

Commisso stare

City manager suddenly has a major public concern issue on his hands – seeing the city through the COVID9 situation.

There are a lot of decisions that are going to have to be made on the spot and Commisso wanted the public to know that his office is gong to be open, transparent and communicating every day with the public.

Councillor Nisan noted that they will be meeting at the Region on the 25th and as a Council.

Councillor Kearns jumped in and said waiting that long was not good enough: “We need to be on top of this daily and ensuring that the city manager has the support he needs.

The risk for Halton at this point is low – but there is a risk and failing to identify that risk and deal with it before it gets out of hand is not an option.

 

Return to the Front page

Burlington oncologist self isolating with her husband: This is not the time to fumble the flow of information to the public.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 12th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The oncologist, who works at the Juravinski Cancer Centre in Hamilton and lives in Burlington, was tested as having COVID19 virus symptoms and is at home self-isolating for a period of 14 days.

Her spouse, who is a surgeon at St. Joseph’s Healthcare, also treated an unknown number of patients at the Charlton Avenue hospital before he too went into self-isolation at their Burlington home Tuesday night.

The Gazette has a question: Do the parents have children and have those children been sent to school?

Dr Meghani at news conference Hamilton

Dr Hamidah Meghani, Halton Region Medical Officer of Heath.

Burlington finally got to hear from Dr. Hamidah Meghani, the Halton Medical Officer of Health (MoH) who said “Our case was not symptomatic on her flight, on her journey home, so we should not be worried about that situation,” said Meghani. “At this time the risk is associated with symptoms.”

Lumb HHS chief

Dr. Barry Lumb at a media event.

Hamilton Health Sciences physician-in-chief Dr. Barry Lumb said the oncologist “did not have respiratory symptoms” such as coughing, sneezing or fever.”

Dr. Meghani said she had “some mild respiratory symptoms.”

Which was it?

The news conference was cut off after less than 30 minutes and it wasn’t until the city held a second media availability in Hamilton at 3 p.m. that reporters were able to have all of their questions heard.

This is not the time to fumble the flow of information to the public.

Related news stories:

MoH was MIA

First COVID19 case in Halton

Return to the Front page

First incident of COVID19 in Halton confirmed: patient is in isolation.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 11th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We knew it was going to happen – the when was the question.

When was today when the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Halton region

Region MoH Meghani

Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Medical Officer of Health for Halton Region

Dr. David Williams, Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health and Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Medical Officer of Health for Halton Region confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in Halton region. This is the 37th case confirmed in Ontario.

This virus is manageable providing you pay attention and monitor your health. When in doubt – don’t delay – get to the medical authorities.

The virus can be held at bay and not spread – if those who even think they might be infected turn to the professionals who can do what has to be done.

A 32 year old female returned from Hawaii on Saturday, became symptomatic on Monday and was tested at Hamilton Health Sciences’ (HHS) Juravinski Hospital on Monday, March 9. She is a frontline healthcare worker at HHS and resides in Burlington.

The hospital took all necessary precautions and followed standard operating procedures, including testing and assessment. The patient is currently at home where she remains in self-isolation. Halton Region Public Health, Hamilton Public Health and Hamilton Health Sciences are working closely and actively engaged in contact tracing and case management.

“Halton Region Public Health is continuing to work with provincial and local health counterparts and with the resident to identify all known contacts who may have been potentially exposed to the virus to assess if there is a potential health risk,” said Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Medical Officer of Health. “The risk to Halton residents remains low.”

What the dood Dr. doesn’t add is that it is real.

“This incidence was detected very quickly and all proper processes were followed,” says Dr. Wes Stephen, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Hamilton Health Sciences. “When she began to show symptoms, infection control protocol was swiftly initiated and she was tested in a safe environment.

Out of an abundance of caution, last week, Hamilton Health Sciences expanded its criteria for testing beyond the standard case definition to include any travel outside Canada. As a result, this case was identified as quickly as possible. She is now in self-isolation protocol.”

Contact Halton Region Public Health by calling 311, 905-825-6000 or toll free at 1-866-442-5866 if you have a fever OR cough OR breathing difficulty AND any of the following:

• travelled outside of Canada in the 14 days before onset of illness; or

• close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19; or

• close contact with a person with acute respiratory illness who travelled to affected areas within 14 days prior to their illness onset.

The best way to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including COVID-19 is to:

• stay home when ill;

• cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or sleeve;

• wash hands with soap and water or with alcohol-based hand rub;

• clean and disinfect objects and surfaces.

For more information on COVID-19, please visit halton.ca/coronavirus.

Return to the Front page

Community agency steps in to inform the public on the COV19 virus: MoH is MIA

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 9th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Last week Judy Pryde, Executive Director of Community Living Burlington, wrote to Parents, Guardians and members of the Community about novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

She was writing to provide an update on the virus and report that to date there have been no confirmed cases in the Halton Region.

The province reports that there have been 31 confirmed cases in the province. In its report they provided a lot of detail that came from the Toronto Medical Officer of Health (MoH), Dr. David Williams, who confirmed two more positive cases of COVID-19 bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Ontario to 31. Of these, four cases in the province are all resolved, with each of those patients having two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart.

A female in her 60s returned from France on March 2, 2020 and presented herself to Scarborough Health Network – General Site’s emergency department, in Toronto, on March 7. A male in his 60s returned from Washington, D.C. on March 3, 2020 and presented himself to North York General Hospital’s emergency department, also in Toronto, on March 7.

Dr. Williams reported that: “In both cases, the hospital took all necessary precautions and followed standard operating procedures, including testing and assessment. The patients have been discharged home where they remain in self-isolation. Toronto Public Health is actively engaged in contact tracing and case management.

He added that: “As a result of the coordinated efforts of our health care and public health system, all individuals who have tested positive have been quickly assessed and isolated.

“At this time, the virus is not circulating locally. However, given the global circumstances, Ontario is actively working with city and health partners to plan for the potential of local spread. The province continues to carefully monitor this situation and encourage residents to stay informed by regularly reviewing credible information sources.”

Dr MOH

Halton Medical Officer of Health (MoH) Dr. Hamidah Meghani

The province is taking the socially responsible action of informing and advising the public. That appears to be much more than Halton’s MoH Dr. Hamidah Meghani is prepared to do;  there hasn’t been a word from the Region to local media. Missing in Action (MIA) would appear to be an appropriate term.

Judy Pryde at Community Living Burlington said” We are keeping the employees of our agency up to date on this virus and we are re-emphasizing the need for caution and understanding around COVID-19.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) is an infection that includes fevers, cough or breathing difficulty. At this point in time, there is no treatment for this infection and no vaccine.

Travel Health Advisory:

As of February 27, 2020, seven countries have been identified to be at higher risk for COVID-19, namely China, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea.
Community Living Burlington is asking all staff and families who travel to COVID-19 impacted countries need to self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days upon return. If symptoms develop, please immediately self-isolate and call Halton Region Public Health at 311, 905-825-6000 or toll free at 1-866-442-5866. To date, all employees have been working cooperatively with these regulations.

How to Prevent the Spread of Respiratory Viruses

The best way to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses including COVID-19 is to:

• Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
• Cover mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing; if no tissue is available, then sneeze or cough into the sleeve or arm;
• Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces regularly; and
• Stay home if ill until your symptoms resolve.

Judy Pryde

Judy Pryde, Executive Director Community Living Burlington

“We will continue to send out information to our parents and guardians as things progress around this virus. The health and well-being of our employees and your family members is of upmost importance.

Kudos to Ms Pryde for doing the job Halton taxpayers hired the MoH to do. The mission of Community Living Burlington is to enrich the quality of life and to promote full and meaningful inclusion in our community of individuals who have a developmental disability.

Return to the Front page

Racoon babies being born earlier this year - the result of climate change?

News 100 greenBy Staff

March 6th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A company involved in removing unwanted wildlife got a call for humane removal of 5 baby raccoons in an attic.

racoon 2

Cute at this point perhaps – you just don’t want it in your attic when it gets older.

“This is unique since raccoons don’t normally give birth until closer to April” explained Nick Nick Shewchuk, who is with Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control.

“This marks the second year in a row we have discovered babies in a home this early in the year. We believe this is triggered by the change in our winter season.

Skedaddle wants residents to know this can happen and what to do if they have babies in their home.

In anticipation of mating season for most urban wildlife, raccoons specifically, a video has been sent out.

 

Return to the Front page

The power of a place called home: Open Letter to the community

opinionviolet 100x100By Eric Doubt,

March 4th, 2020

GEORGETOWN ON

If you change the name Halton Hills to Burlington this Open Letter could have been written for Burlington as well.

In the links to additional material there is a link to a Gazette article – someone in Halton Hills likes us.

During a recent Regional Council meeting one of the representatives from Halton Hills admitted that there was homelessness and people sleeping on park benches in her community.

The person on the park bench spends another winter night in the snowy, wet, subzero weather. Some people in our neighbourhood are helping and the authorities and agencies are fully aware and actively seeking solutions. Similarly, you may be aware of others who are homeless in your neighbourhoods.

Georgetown signThere is homelessness in Georgetown(1). Some of us are vaguely aware that there may be. Some of us may try to do something about it but find it hard to create change. Some of us get upset or become disappointed and frustrated with failed efforts and a few may try to do more or learn more. Some of us just walk by the bench and say it’s just too bad and it shouldn’t be and don’t know where to turn, so turn away.

There is homelessness all over the world – in all developing countries, as well as those countries with the highest standards of living. There (here) it’s a chronic social problem driven by many complex factors including economic and social inequality, apathy, discrimination, impacts of mental illness, family dysfunction, alcoholism and drug addiction. Despite many well-intended and well-resourced studies and valiant efforts, we can’t seem to cure or prevent it.

Somebody had to come up with a different approach. What if we provided homes for the homeless; how might that change the paradigm?

The good news is – it’s been studied, researched and tried and it works. Quality of life gradually improves including: addiction behaviour, health, state-of-mind, ambition and action towards education, self-improvement and a return to society as a full participating member. The research is there and the results are proof.

You have to love the Finns. Four of them, a social scientist, a doctor, a politician and a bishop devised the principle called “housing first” over a decade ago. When I first read about this, I was dumbstruck. This article (2), one of many, describes the initiative: “As in many countries, homelessness in Finland had long been tackled using a staircase model: you were supposed to move through different stages of temporary accommodation as you got your life back on track, with an apartment as the ultimate reward.

“We decided to make the housing unconditional. To say, look, you don’t need to solve your problems before you get a home. Instead, a home should be the secure foundation that makes it easier to solve your problems.” Finland now has the lowest rate of homelessness in the EU and is on the road to eradicating it.

Now, let’s bring it home – to Medicine Hat, Alberta. Watch your jaw drop. This western city has been blazing the trail toward functional zero chronic homelessness in Canada, having supported and housed 1166 homeless individuals since 2009. There are currently fewer than seven individuals not yet ‘at home’ in their community, today (3, 4)

A conceptually simple, concrete and sustainable solution, but it raises many issues of social and political will and resource allocation.

What if our community tried the same thing and became, like many other communities well on the road, an example of innovative, collaborative and successful social action? We did it on a smaller but very successful scale for our Beer Fest and the Canada Day flag competition and fly over.

It begins with individuals, – citizens, politicians, community and business leaders, who have the social consciousness and conscience, and the will to act and demonstrate leadership.

Let’s take a look around and challenge potential candidates. I believe an action force comprised of three powerful groups within our community could launch our own Halton Hills Homes First program and succeed. The partnership would consist of leadership from Mayor Rick Bonnette and our strong municipal council – human resources from a cooperative of local service organizations led by Habitat for Humanity – coupled with the experience and capacity of a major local developer prepared to give back.

If you Google ‘’housing first”, you will learn about the many pros and cons, failures and successes, frustrations and challenges and yes, critics, naysayers and deniers. But, you will also understand that it’s the best idea yet and that may convince you to have second thoughts next time you walk past that park bench in your neighbourhood.

Media links:

1.https://www.burlingtongazette.ca/homelessness-in-halton-what-are-the-stats-and-what-are-the-reasons/
https://www.theifp.ca/news-story/9187415-demand-for-homelessness-prevention-services-rising-in-halton/
2. https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/jun/03/its-a-miracle-helsinkis-radical-solution-to-homelessness
3. https://www.thestar.com/calgary/2019/12/22/medicine-hat-said-it-eliminated-homelessness-in-2015-heres-how-the-city-is-working-to-keep-it-that-way.html
4file://localhost/. https/::caeh.ca:bright-spot-medicine-hat:

 

Return to the Front page

Is there a Regional plan in place should the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) reach pandemic proportions?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

March 1st, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19)  has been found in 47 countries.

We may be be close to declaring a pandemic, which is when a whole country or the world is infected.  China, Iran and Italy are struggling to control the spread of the disease. The disease is now being spread in the United States.

Ontario has now found 19 people who are infected.

There is much that is not yet known by this virus. It appears that most people do recover from an infection.

The damage to the economy has been significant; the New York Stock Exchange recorded the largest drop in its history.

Stock prices

Biggest one day drop of New York Stock Exchange prices in its history. “The game has changed with Italy and also with the new case in California,”

People have every reason to be concerned – deeply concerned.

Japan has closed all its schools.

It has been suggested that the Tokyo Olympics might be cancelled.

None of this is said to be alarmist – however we do have a serious problem on our hands.

Ontario learned a lot from the SARS outbreak – those lessons are serving us well.

The provincial Medical Officer of Health and the Ministry of Health has a constant flow of information – we are informed at the federal level and the provincial level.

We are not informed at the Regional level.

The disease is now in Canada.  It is being passed from person to person.  That does not mean the ravages of the 1918 Spanish flu is about to overcome us – but it does mean things have changed and public behavior has to change.

The public expects leadership from the people who we have put in place to lead.  The Medical Officer of Health is a critical part of protecting us.  Saying nothing is just not acceptable.

In the event that the virus gets completely out of control what does the average uninfected person do?

What does a person who suspects they might be infected do?

What does a person who is infected do?

If there are say 100 people in the Region infected – what do we do?

Is there a plan in place?

We have plans for people to use recreational centers when the weather is sub-zero and dangerous to be out in.

The public is advised when there is a West Nile virus concern – the Gazette publishes those notices regularly as we do with an outbreak of measles.

Dr MOH

Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Halton’s Medical Officer of Heath.

The public has not heard a word from the Regional Medical Officer of Health on the COVID19 virus.

The public deserves better.

The Medical Officer of Health for the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health board told a local newspaper in that community that “It’s more of a communication event than a medical event for us.”

The communications advisors at the Region said the Medical Officer of Health had no comment when the Gazette asked for a comment.

Region alcohol

A report on Halton’s alcohol consumption took up more than 45 minutes during a Regional Council meeting

The Regional Medical Officer of Health did advise Regional Council recently  that Halton could well have a alcohol problem; the Regional rate of consumption is 5% higher than the provincial rate.

There is something wrong with the priorities.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

 

 

Return to the Front page

Overdose Risk Posed by Another New Substance in Halton - Etizolam

News 100 redBy Staff

February 27th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

HRPS crestThe Halton Regional Police Service has been made aware of the presence of a novel substance in association with a fatal overdose in Halton Region. That substance is etizolam.

Etizolam is a synthetically manufactured benzodiazepine derivative (central nervous system depressant) similar in nature to Xanax, but far more potent. Etizolam is not approved by Health Canada for medical use.

Etizolam, when combined with opioids, has contributed to an increasing number of overdoses in Ontario.

Naloxone will not reverse the effects of etizolam.

Nonetheless, the community is encouraged to administer naloxone in the event of any suspected overdose, as you will not know what drugs caused the overdose.

If you use drugs, or have a friend or family member who uses drugs, these tips may help save a life in the event of an overdose:

Know the signs. An overdose is a medical emergency. Know the signs of an overdose and call 9-1-1 right away:

• difficulty walking, talking, or staying awake
• blue lips or nails
• very small pupils
• cold and clammy skin
• dizziness and confusion
• extreme drowsiness
• choking, gurgling or snoring sounds
• slow, weak or no breathing
• inability to wake up, even when shaken or shouted at

Don’t run. Call 9-1-1. Our frontline officers, and other first responders in Halton, carry naloxone and we want to assist. The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act provides broad legal protections for anyone seeking emergency support during an overdose, including the person experiencing an overdose. This means citizens, including youth, will not be charged for offences such as simple possession for calling 9-1-1 in an emergency.

Carry naloxone, a drug that can temporarily reverse an opioid overdose. Naloxone is available free-of-charge in Halton at:

• Halton Region Harm Reduction Services (Exchange Works)
• Halton Region Sexual Health clinics
• Most pharmacies in Halton

Never use alone. Don’t use drugs alone, and don’t let those around you use alone either.

If you overdose when you are alone, there will be no one there to help you. If you are using with someone else, don’t use at the same time.

Go slow. The quality of street drugs is unpredictable. Any drug can be cut with, or contaminated by, other agents or drugs (e.g. fentanyl), which in very small amounts can be harmful or fatal. Know your tolerance and always use a small amount of a drug first to check the strength.

Return to the Front page

New Substance Detected in Halton - Poses Overdose Risk

News 100 redBy Staff

February 26th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) has received notification from Health Canada that analysis of a drug seized in Halton by the HRPS earlier this year has been identified as a mixture of flualprazolam, fentanyl, caffeine and dimethylsuplhone.

Flualprazolam is a synthetically manufactured benzodiazepine derivative (central nervous system depressant) similar in nature to Xanax, but far more potent.

While the HRPS is not aware of any confirmed or suspected overdoses related to flualprazolam in our region, the potential risk of this novel substance necessitated a community alert at the earliest opportunity. Flualprazolam has been linked to deaths elsewhere in North America.

According to the Centre for Forensic Science Research and Education (CFSRE), “the human toxicity of flualprazolam has not been extensively studied but recent association with drug user death leads professionals to believe this new benzodiazepine retains the potential to cause widespread harm and is of public health concern.”

noxolone - police

Police attending to a drug user.

Flualprazolam is not an opioid, meaning that naloxone may not reverse the effect of an associated overdose.

Despite this, the community is encouraged to administer naloxone in the event of any suspected overdose, as you will not know what drugs caused the overdose.

If you use drugs, or have a friend or family member who uses drugs, these tips may help save a life in the event of an overdose:

Know the signs. An overdose is a medical emergency. Know the signs of an overdose and call 9-1-1 right away:

• difficulty walking, talking, or staying awake
• blue lips or nails
• very small pupils
• cold and clammy skin
• dizziness and confusion
• extreme drowsiness
• choking, gurgling or snoring sounds
• slow, weak or no breathing
• inability to wake up, even when shaken or shouted at

Don’t run. Call 9-1-1. Our frontline officers, and other first responders in Halton, carry naloxone and we want to assist. The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act provides broad legal protections for anyone seeking emergency support during an overdose, including the person experiencing an overdose. This means citizens, including youth, will not be charged for offences such as simple possession for calling 9-1-1 in an emergency.

Carry naloxone, a drug that can temporarily reverse an opioid overdose. Naloxone is available free-of-charge in Halton at:

• Regional Health Clinics (in Acton, Burlington, Georgetown, Milton and Oakville) and Halton Region Needle Exchange Program (Exchange Works)

• Some local pharmacies. To find a pharmacy that distributes naloxone, visit the Ontario government’s Where to get a free naloxone kit web page.

Never use alone. Don’t use drugs alone, and don’t let those around you use alone either. If you overdose when you are alone, there will be no one there to help you. If you are using with someone else, don’t use at the same time.

Go slow. The quality of street drugs is unpredictable. Any drug can be cut with, or contaminated by, other agents or drugs (e.g. fentanyl), which in very small amounts can be harmful or fatal. Know your tolerance and always use a small amount of a drug first to check the strength.

The HRPS will not be providing further details on the occurrence in which the drug was seized.

Return to the Front page

That plastic bottle that ends up in the ocean is ending up in the fish we eat.

News 100 greenBy Ray Rivers

February 14th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The baby boom generation has a lot to answer for. How many boomers can recall that epic 1967 movie, ‘The Graduate’. A young Dustin Hoffman was the dazed and aimless anti-hero stuck in a fractured picture of an overabundant American civilization looking for its next drug. And there it was, on the strength of advice from a well-intentioned guest. “Plastics… There’s a great future in plastics”.

plastic bio-degrading

Sifting through debris at a plastic bottle recycling plant has led to the unearthing of a plastic-munching microorganism that can break down polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The researchers who discovered the bacterium hope that it will provide a new way to recycle PET plastics by breaking them down into their building blocks.

Watching the news today it is hard to get beyond the threat to all of us posed by the Coronavirus, recently named COVID-19. A pandemic is an immediate, and acute threat and we are pretty sure that it will peak and then pass. Contrast that with the chronic challenges of global warming and something we’ve heard less about until recently, plastic pollution.

Micro plastic particles are omnipresent in our environment, the air we breathe and the food we ingest. We may not fully comprehend what that means, but it’s not good. Even in the most remote reaches of our oceans, fish now contain significant amounts of plastic in their bodies… and so do we when we eat them. And unlike the nasty COVID-9 virus, which will eventually be gone, the plastic pollution we have created will be with us for a very long time.

Who could have envisioned the potential impact of such a seemingly benign and inert product, developed to improve the state of our lives. Little more than a half century after our young graduate was turned-on to plastic we learn that there is now an island of plastic waste floating in the Pacific Ocean, three hundred kilometres wide and three times the size of France.

Back when they were filming the Graduate the biggest threat to our survival was the bomb and the Soviets. Whoever had thought of this bigger risk to our survival – big fossil fuel? Yes, the very people who are delivering rising sea levels, acidification and warming of the oceans, melting of the polar ice caps, and increased storms are also the same culprits who have given us plastics.

plastic in ocean

A huge belt of plastic photographed floating off the coast of the Caribbean island of Roatan, Honduras.

Plastic takes more than 400 years to degrade, and its production has doubled every 15 years. So unless we do something radical, by 2050 the oceans will contain more plastic waste than fish, ton for ton. Of the billions of metric tonnes of plastic that have been produced, fully 80% goes in the waste bins and over a third of that is ‘single use’ – used once and discarded.

Industry’s claim that plastic can be recycled is largely a myth, since less than 10% is actually recycled. In fact, half of all plastic manufactured becomes trash in less than a year. And eight million tonnes ends up in the ocean every year – the equivalent of five grocery bags of plastic trash for every foot of the planet’s ocean coastline.

The prime minister promised that if re-elected he would ban single use plastic starting next year, but the devil is in the details. To that end the government has just released a scientific assessment of the plastics problem. Besides the potential of government regulations, there is already some action afoot to deal with the problem.

Clearly the place to start is to avoid the use of plastic. To that end many grocery stores are no longer offering plastic bags at cash outs, though a good deal of everything in the stores still comes wrapped in layers of plastic film and sits on trays of single use styrofoam. Many restaurants have switched to paper rather than plastic straws, or just eliminated them entirely. And many customers are refusing to accept plastic bags, when offered, for the products they buy.

Then there are a number of environmental non-profit organizations taking the plastic in their own hands by starting to clean it up. One of these is a Vancouver outfit called Ocean Legacy Foundation. Started in 2014, this organization claims about 25 staff, most of whom are volunteers to clean up the plastic refuse which gets washed ashore on the west coast every day. Since 2015 Ocean Legacy has collected 170,000 pounds of waste plastic from Canada’s western shorelines.

Though not presently operational in the Great Lakes, Ocean Legacy is active in Costa Rica, Mexico and Panama. In addition to hands-on clean ups, the organization has structured a program of information, education and advocacy which they offer to help communities get involved on their own and on their own shorelines. They have received some funding from governments as well private entities, and they do accept online donations.

Principal-effects-of-microplastics-on-fish

The damage plastics in ocean water are doing to the fish we eat.

As important as these voluntary clean up actions are, runaway plastic pollution is a problem that drastically needs government regulation. Some of the larger manufacturers of plastic film and other packaging would have you believe they maintain a cradle-to-grave responsible corporate policy, something which was in vogue a few years ago. Yet they are missing in action when it comes to cleaning up the mess they have inadvertently created, since virtually all plastic is created as a product of oil and gas mining.  So why are big oil and the plastic manufacturers missing in action when it comes to cleaning up the mess they are responsible for?

Canada has become a highly divided nation. There are those who live in oil producing provinces and then there are the rest of us. That was made evident in the last federal election. The only political party promoting big oil won almost every seat in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

There is a simmering conflict and an emerging political crisis at our doorstep. The political leaders of those oil producing provinces may not personally be in the pockets of the oil companies but they are there to do their bidding as the industry endeavors to extract that very last barrel of bitumen.

The fight will be between the legitimate right of a federal government to protect the health of its citizens and the right of the oil companies and their sub-national political allies to monetize that last grain of bitumen laden sand. And the consequences of failure may well be the kind of protest action we are seeing among indigenous folks today over pipelines.

Plastics may have played a big role in our economic lives over the last sixty years but it has left us with a poisonous legacy. And its future is no longer great, given the unintended consequences of its widespread adoption.

Background links

Draft Science Assessment –     Great PacificGarbage Patch –     Fish to Humans

Plastic Waste –    PM’s Promise –   Swimming Through Pacific Garbage

Ocean Legacy

Return to the Front page

Regional Medical Officer of Health not available for comment.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 28th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Senior public officials around the world are going public and doing their best to assure people that the coronavirus is under control when it isn’t but we do know that huge efforts are being made to get it under control.

Public confidence comes from public leaders – which appear to be in short supply at the Regional level.

virus UK

Citizens in the United Kingdom wearing masks.

virus germany

Citizens in Germany wearing masks.

The Gazette was in touch with one of the Regional communications advisers on the payroll arranging to interview the Medical Officer of Health (MOH)  Dr. Meghani.
She was unavailable. We will come back to that.

We were asked what we wanted to talk to the good Dr. about (Huh!)

The communications adviser was typing most of what we said and sent us the following:

1. Is Halton Region Public Health working with the school board to issue communications to parents? What information will be shared with parents?

• Halton Region Public Health has been in communication with local school boards. We are continuing to work closely with superintendents to ensure that school administrators and families have up-to-date and accurate information.

2. Is coronavirus a public health concern in Halton?

• Halton Region Public Health is coordinating with local hospitals and communicating with key community partners such as physicians, long-term care homes and local school boards. We continue to work closely with provincial and local health counterparts to monitor the situation and assess potential health risk.

• While the risk to individuals in Ontario remains low, residents are encouraged to tell their health care provider if they have travelled to an affected area of China, and develop flu-like symptoms.

3. What should Halton residents know about coronavirus?

• Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause symptoms similar to the common cold, but in some cases can cause severe respiratory illness.

• The best way to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, such as coronavirus is to:
• stay home if you are ill;

• cover coughs and sneezes with your sleeve;

• wash your hands with soap and water or with alcohol-based hand rub; and
• clean and disinfect objects and surfaces.

• Symptoms of 2019-nCoV infection include fever, cough and breathing difficulties. If anyone has these symptoms AND has travelled to Wuhan, China in the 14 days prior to illness onset, OR has had close contact with a person who is suspected or confirmed as having novel coronavirus infection, they should contact Halton Region Public Health immediately by calling 311, 905-825-6000 or toll free at 1-866-442-5866.

• While the risk to individuals in Ontario remains low, residents are encouraged to tell their health care provider if they have travelled to an affected area of China, and develop flu-like symptoms.

Region MoH Meghani

Regional Medical Officer of Health. Dr. Hamidah Meghani

Confidence in the leadership is critical when there is concern, fear, edginess about an issue. One can’t but know that there is a serious problem. A large part of China is in lock-down and we know that this virus is spreading.

People want to know what is being done to protect them; a memo doesn’t really cut it. The MOH can do better.

Related news stories:

The MOH knew how to communicate in the past.

Return to the Front page

Provincial government and Halton Board of Education working with Regional Public Health to keep parents up to date on the novel coronavirus.

News 100 redBy Staff

January 27th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, issued the following statement in response to the first presumptive case of the Wuhan novel coronavirus in Ontario and following a briefing of the province’s directors of education:

“The health and well-being of Ontarians, including and especially our students and school staff, is our number one priority. To that end, earlier today Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, and Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health, briefed Ontario’s directors of education on the province’s extensive protocols to monitor, detect and contain any cases of the Wuhan novel coronavirus.

Ontario continues to work directly alongside our partners at the Public Health Agency of Canada and local public health units to monitor the situation closely. Newly strengthened protocols for identification and control are working to keep the public safe.

We want to assure students, parents and school communities that officials at the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education are working together in close cooperation with our partners in both the education and health care sectors to ensure the continued safety and well-being of students and staff.”

To help educate Ontarians about Wuhan novel coronavirus, how they can protect themselves and what to do if they suspect they may be at risk, the province has launched a dedicated webpage.

Stuart_Miller___Gallery

Stuart Miller, Director of Education for the Halton District School Board

Stuart Miller, Director of Education for the Halton District School Board said in a statement he released to the Gazette last night that he is in “close contact with Halton Region Public Health” and is “jointly working on a communication to school administrators and families” which he expects to have out to these people before the  end of the day on Monday.

 

Return to the Front page

Mental health on Facebook Live - from JBH

News 100 yellowBy Staff

January 27th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Steven Selchen JBH

Dr. Steven Selchen, Chief of Psychiatry at Joseph Brant Hospital

On Bell Let’s Talk Day, Dr. Steven Selchen, Chief of Psychiatry at Joseph Brant Hospital and colleagues invite you to join them on Facebook Live as they have a conversation about mental health and access to programs.

Mental Health is not something that gets the serious attention it needs; many people still want to hide the fact that there are problems within the family.

The hospital is taking a very welcome step in opening up the subject in a way that is less public for those who face mental health issues every day. Kudos to the hospital.

Date: January 29, 2020 Time: 9:00 a.m.

Just log into:
www.Facebook.com/JosephBrantHospital

Return to the Front page