Governments should listen to the fed-up majority on vaccine mandates and passports

In a better world, all our governments, at all levels, would put aside their partisan differences and They’d agree, for instance, that a national vaccine ID system is a vital tool to getting out of the pandemic. They’d all work together to get that done; in fact, it would already be a reality, as it is in much of Europe, not a distant promise. In that better world, all provinces would heed the rising chorus from medical associations, nurses’ unions, business organizations, long-term care groups and independent experts to make vaccination mandatory for full participation in public activities. They would follow those same groups’ urgent recommendations to make vaccination a requirement for working in key areas, like education and health care. Sadly, though, we don’t live in that world. In the real world, where the fourth wave of COVID is well underway, governments are acting too slowly on these key issues. And many provinces — notably Ontario — are shutting their ears to those calls for making vaccines mandatory in some circumstances. This is profoundly disappointing after 17 months of a pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 26,000 Canadians, cost us hundreds of billions of dollars, and stressed our entire society. So many people worked so hard to wrestle COVID to the ground over the summer. The federal government brought in tens of millions of doses of vaccines, and the great majority of Canadians rushed to get their shots. Bu […]

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Vaccines, variants and the grey zone: Where Ontario is at now

As Ontario fully enters the grey zone, case numbers are creeping upwards again. While many citizens of the GTA are enjoying eased restrictions after a long lockdown, new COVID variants are circulating and modelling projections paint a grim picture. At the same time, the vaccine rollout is truly getting underway and the number of people vaccinated is another number to watch. So where exactly are we at in the COVID battle as a province? Ed Tubb, a Toronto Star assignment editor, has been following and reporting on COVID-19 data since the pandemic began. He joins “This Matters” again to look at the numbers, explain where the trends are pointing and parse out the current data. Listen to this episode and more at “” or subscribe at , , or wherever you listen to your favourite podcasts. If you would like to support the journalism of the Toronto Star, you can .

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Innisfil man charged with assault and robbery

A 45-year-old Innisfil man is facing charges in connection to an assault and robbery in Innisfil on Monday, Aug. 9, South Simcoe Police Service said in a media release. At around 7 p.m., a man told police he was assaulted and robbed by a man with a knife, police said. The victim did not require medical treatment, the media release states.  Police said the incident took place in the area of   The victim and his group had befriended the suspect and a woman earlier in the day, police said describing the circumstances leading up to the alleged assault.  After the alleged assault and robbery, the suspect left the scene on foot with the woman, said South Simcoe Police Service.  Officers located and arrested the suspect.  Police seized a knife and what they suspect is cocaine, states the media release. A 45-year-old Innisfil man faces numerous charges including: assault with a weapon, robbery with a weapon, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, obstruct peace officer, fail to comply with release order, and possession of drugs (suspected cocaine).  The accused was held for a bail hearing.  A 37-year-old Angus woman was arrested on an unrelated warrant from another police service and was turned over to that service’s custody, South Simcoe Police Service said. 

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Martin Regg Cohn: COVID-19 vaccinations are essential. Why did it take Doug Ford so long to figure that out?

The sudden clamour for vaccination mandates is wondrous to behold. The wonder is that it took so long to take hold. Most people wanted to avoid the risk of getting an infection. Yet politicians were averse to the risk of public divisions, afraid to go out on a limb lest they be by anti-vaxxers. In the politics of pandemics, people are looking for leaders, not laggards. This month — 17 months after COVID-19 took root in Canada — our prime minister, premier and mayor have finally found their voices on vaccination mandates. Belatedly, reluctantly, they have said what needed to be said to get the jab done. With an election getting underway, Justin Trudeau mandated vaccinations for air and rail travel, also requiring those in federal government jobs to get jabs — not least Liberal candidates looking for work on Parliament Hill. At Queen’s Park, to cracking down on health-care workers who were falling through the cracks, while — including his own Progressive Conservative MPPs and future candidates. At city hall, John Tory is now practising what he’s been preaching — finally demanding that municipal employees do what he’s been asking his federal and provincial counterparts to do. Now the big banks and insurance companies, after much hemming and hawing, have hedged their risks by demanding vaccinations for their sprawling bureaucracies. In ordinary times, necessity is the mother of invention. But in the extraordinary times of COVID-19, […]

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Residents petitioning city to keep Orillia’s Terry Fox Circle open to traffic

Residents opposing the closure of Terry Fox Circle to traffic have launched a petition calling on council to reconsider. “We can sit and let them do it, or we can fight it,” said Mel St. Onge, chair of a five-member committee championing the effort.   At issue is a plan to prohibit vehicles from entering the circle at Couchiching Beach Park once it is redesigned as a pedestrian-only feature, a change meant to improve safety for park goers by limiting vehicles to the periphery. The council-supported option limits the circle’s use to pedestrians, with parking relegated to the park’s perimeter and a drop-off point at a centrally located cul-de-sac. Council directed staff to proceed with the circle’s detailed design. “As more and more people come into the park, I believe that there is a greater potential for the conflict of the vehicle and the pedestrian, which ultimately leads to a potential accident,” Coun. Ted Emond said. Cruising through the park is a long-standing tradition beloved by many, including seniors, some of whom will be challenged to access the park due to mobility issues, St. Onge said. “The last thing we want is to change the inside of the park that everybody loves,” he said, adding the circle’s speed bumps slow vehicles and there have been no accidents reported. Any remaining concerns could be addressed with solutions other than closing the circle to traffic, said fellow committee member Marcel Rou […]

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How COVAX is getting vaccines to nations that need it the most

Listen here or subscribe at , , , or wherever you listen to your favourite podcasts, including , where Closed Captioning is available. Stay updated on episodes via our . If you would like to support the journalism of the Toronto Star, you can at . Guest: Dr. Margaret Harris, infectious diseases expert and spokesperson for World Health Organization As the pandemic continues, low-income and in vaccination efforts. The reason is simple. Many countries cannot afford vaccines because the contracts tied to them are tied to the most powerful nations in the world. Can a pandemic truly end if billions around the world don’t have access to vaccines? COVAX, a program developed by the World Health Organization, is designed to solve that problem by bridging the gap between have and have-not countries. We’ll talk about the challenge and cost of delivering doses, the responsibility of rich countries to share, and why failures affect all of us. Adrian Cheung is a co-host and producer on the Star’s podcast team. He is based in Toronto. Reach him via email:

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Drone and aerospace assembly operations coming to Lake Simcoe airport

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a new tech company coming to the Lake Simcoe Regional Airport. On March 9, Simcoe County council agreed to let bring a “significant portion” of its drone and unmanned aerospace assembly operations to the airport. Through the county’s newly-created annual LSRA Aerospace Development Fund, the project will be eligible for up to $100,000. The new Volatus Aerospace Centre of Excellence is expected to bring 17 to 20 high-paying jobs in the aerospace sector by September 2021, the county said in a release. The company plans to lease a 32,000-square-foot hangar for assembly of drone components, along with research and development. Additionally, its manned aircraft business would offer charter flights out of the airport. Expected employment will continue to double for the next two to three years, based on projected growth, the county noted. “We welcome the team from Volatus Aerospace to Simcoe County and thank them for recognizing the potential of our region and the LSRA towards their ongoing success,” Warden George Cornell said in a release. “It was important that we acted quickly to leverage this exciting opportunity and avoid missing out on new jobs and investment.” Cornell said the decision will make the region a leader for innovation and manufacturing, and will help attract new investment. “County council approved this initial grant funding program quickly as they recognized […]

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Ford government claims ‘fraudulently obtained funds’ being used to pay legal fees of family linked to alleged $11M COVID-19 fraud

Premier Doug Ford’s government argues that the family tied to the alleged theft of $11 million in pandemic aid is using “fraudulently obtained funds” to pay for their legal defence. Crown prosecutors will be in virtual court Thursday in a bid to “refreeze” the money. In documents filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the province alleges “some or all of” Sanjay Madan, his spouse Shalini, their adult sons Chinmaya and Ujjawal, and associate Vidhan Singh perpetrated “a massive fraud” to siphon COVID-19 relief cash to numerous bank accounts at branches of TD, Bank of Montreal, Royal Bank of Canada, Tangerine, and India’s ICICI Bank. Shalini, who is separating from Sanjay, and her sons have denied any wrongdoing, claiming they are victims of “identity theft.” Singh also insists he did nothing illegal. The province has frozen $28 million in Madan assets in Canada and India, but the family has had access to about $475,000 for their legal defence, much of which has already been spent. Sanjay Madan was fired last November from his $176,608-a-year job as a Ministry of Education computer specialist. He was the information technology leader on the province’s Support for Families scheme, designed to defray online education expenses in the pandemic. In civil court testimony, which cannot be used against him in any potential criminal action, Madan has said it was “a free-flowing program” s […]

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