Salon owners feel left behind as Toronto, Peel start to ease COVID-19 restrictions

As pandemic restrictions loosen in Toronto and neighbouring Peel Region, businesses across the personal care services industry say they’re being left behind. Several professionals and proprietors who spoke to the Star on Sunday complained they’re being treated unfairly as they continue to be barred from opening under the . Outcry from the sector, which includes salons, barbershops and other cosmetic services, comes on the heels of the province announcing Friday that it was lifting the strict stay-at-home orders in those jurisdictions. Michele Bonnick, the owner of Amani Hair Studio in Toronto, said anticipation built as dozens of people were on a waiting list, expecting to get the green light to book hair appointments this month. Bonnick instead had to tell them she was remaining closed until the province gave the go ahead to reopen. She slammed the provincial rule book for what she sees as favouritism towards big-box stores and other retailers, while struggling entrepreneurs are left to bear the brunt of the restrictions. “It’s just garbage,” she said. “The standards that they’ve set for us are so high.” Her salon has been closed for more than three months, since the November lockdown. “The problem is the ongoing shutting down and opening up, shutting down and opening up,” she said. “It’s so inconsistent.” Bonnick dipped into her savings to stay afloat during last spring’s lockdown. She&#8217 […]

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Ontario provides $4.68 million in additional funding to aid in Simcoe County’s COVID-19 response

The Ontario government is spending more cash to help the keep pace with the rigours of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a joint press release issued Aug. 16, Barrie and Simcoe County-area Progressive Conservative MPPs announced the province will assist in the local pandemic recovery and response by granting the county an additional $4.68 million to deliver services, create long-term housing solutions and protect vulnerable residents. “Since 2014, the county, working with area partners and other levels of government, has supported the creation of more than 2,300 new community housing units in Simcoe, while assisting and investing in our shelter system and other transitional housing projects,” Warden George Cornell said in a statement. “The pandemic has brought on new challenges and increased demand for attainable housing, and we’re grateful for the continued support.” In total, the province says it will provide $307 million in funding, mostly new, for municipalities and Indigenous groups across Ontario. The announcement also includes $21 million from the existing Canada-Ontario Community Housing Initiative. “We are committed to ensuring that Simcoe has the resources they need to continue to keep our local communities safe,” said. “Our municipalities have been on the front lines since day 1 for vaccine rollout and pandemic response to ensure that our homeless and vulnerable populations are protected. “This will help support these e […]

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SPOTLIGHT: 3 CARP Barrie facts

1. CARP, formerly known as the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, is a seniors’ advocacy group open to anyone over 18, but targets people 45 and up, particularly those in the sandwich generation. The Barrie chapter started 12 years ago to bring attention to housing concerns for seniors. 2. With active social media accounts, the CARP Barrie chapter is bringing focus to caregivers who are working hard to help seniors during the pandemic. Local organization chairperson Gwen Kavanagh wants to help caregivers, advocating for full-time jobs with higher pay. She also advocates for seniors’ co-housing and “butterfly” homes for people with dementia. 3. CARP Barrie is a volunteer group that takes members year-round. A one-year membership costs $19.95, which includes some member benefits and trips, although during COVID-19, everything is virtual. For more information, visit or call Kavanagh at .

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‘It’s going to be healthier food’: Orillia Lighthouse chef

Dollars dished out by the Ontario Trillium Foundation will support a program that provides nourishment to some of Orillia’s most vulnerable residents. A grant of more than $149,000 will go toward kitchen equipment, the dining room and staffing for’s community meal program at its new community services and supportive housing project. “This grant has allowed needed renovations to be made to accommodate the increase in meal distribution to the community by five times the amount we were able to distribute in our previous facility,” said Lynn Thomas, development and communications manager. Located on Queen Street East, The Lighthouse project features an emergency shelter for men, women and youths, a café and commercial kitchen, and supportive housing where residents experiencing chronic homelessness can stay for up to four years. Included in the recent grant is money for kitchen equipment such as a refrigerator and baking oven, as well as funding for additional cook staff to assist the chef and kitchen manager to organize the meal program for its inaugural year. Chef and food services manager Stu Stark said the new facilities represented a “step up” from the operation that previously served residents through The Lighthouse’s former location on Peter Street South. “It’s going to be better food, it’s going to be healthier food, it’s going to be more nutritious,” said Stark. The money came from the Ontario […]

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‘Continue to take COVID-19 very seriously’: Simcoe-Muskoka’s top doc issues fourth wave warning

There are very few COVID-19-related hospitalizations in Simcoe-Muskoka right now. So why should we be concerned? Because the region is in the start of a fourth wave that has the potential to become severe, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit medical officer of health Dr. Charles Gardner says. There are 125 known active cases of the virus in the region. However, there hasn’t been a COVID-19-related death in August, and there are just four people being treated for the virus in local hospitals (including three requiring intensive care). These are fractions of the numbers experienced during the height of the third wave earlier this year. But the current rise in cases is occurring earlier in the calendar year when compared to fall 2020’s lead in to the second wave.   “About a month ago, I’d become aware of projections that suggested there could be the beginning of a fourth wave in August,” Gardner told reporters. “That was disheartening, but now those projections are proving to be accurate. We need to continue to take COVID-19 very seriously, this Delta variant that much more so. It’s very good to see low hospitalizations. If this fourth wave proved to be less severe, I’d be very happy. But it is too early to know whether that is going to be the case. We need to take our precautions now. The potential is there for a large wave with severe cases.” Gardner said he’s glad to see a pause placed on and he wants resid […]

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Firearm allegedly shown as threat in Barrie parking dispute

A firearm was allegedly pointed at someone after a parking dispute between two people Aug. 20. In a press release, Barrie police shared a photo of a suspect who went to a Black Cherry Crescent home at 11 p.m., where a confrontation happened over a parking situation. During the dispute, the suspect allegedly displayed a handgun towards the victim, then left. The suspect is described as a man in his mid-20s who is 5-foot-10 with long, black, braided hair tied back. He was wearing a grey T-shirt, black pants, white high-top shoes and appeared to have a white bandage or wrap on his right hand.

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‘Easy to remember’: Simcoe County municipalities back motion to create 988 crisis prevention hotline

Support is spreading throughout Simcoe County to establish a new hotline that will make it easier for people to get help when they are experiencing a mental health crisis. Last December, the House of Commons passed a motion to create a new, three-digit phone number, 988, that would bring all existing suicide prevention services across the country under the same umbrella. Since then, a growing number of councils have passed motions supporting the creation of the hotline, including New Tecumseth, Adjala-Tosorontio and Caledon. Bernadette Copeland, chair of the , is also getting behind the movement. “Providing an easy-to-remember number will hopefully encourage more people to utilize this ‘988’ phone resource and obtain the help they require, without the struggle of remembering too much, when the emotions are high,” she told Simcoe.com. “I believe it also means that no matter where you are in this country, you will receive the same high-quality, life-preserving information that will be useful for you in your own circumstance.” Simcoe County council has expressed support for this initiative. A motion was passed earlier this month, directing staff to study the issue further and report back with recommendations.

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Barrie police exploring new ways to handle 911 mental health calls

Barrie police are looking south to York Region to see if a pilot project on how mental health calls are handled there could be implemented here as well. “It’s a concept that we are looking at, but we don’t necessarily want to reinvent the wheel,” Insp. Peter Dewsnap said. “We want to make sure that those people who need specialized services get connected to those services.” York Regional Police has placed mental health crisis workers in their communications bureau to help handle 911 calls as they come into the dispatch centre. “When COVID first hit we were taken out of the cars and off the road and a call diversion unit was created where we sat with our partner and took calls, and that worked really well,” said Catherine Deveau, a crisis worker hired by York police. Deveau said response to having mental health workers in the communications centre has been so positive, a pilot project was launched in November and will run until March 31. Dewsnap said Barrie police will look to other services, such as York’s, for examples and hopefully adapt them to what would work in this city. “Whether the person actually sits in communications or not is what we are trying to determine,” he said. Barrie police already steer people in need of support to the appropriate service by reviewing calls a day later. In 2019, 218 followups were made to emergency mental health calls. “This model is trying to see if we can do that in […]

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