Was the Roberta Place outbreak preventable? ‘Absolutely,’ says woman whose mother died there prior to pandemic

When Gale Wood first laid eyes on Roberta Place, she thought it was “heaven, initially.” But the Barrie resident now describes her experience with the Essa Road long-term-care home, the site of the most deadly COVID-19 outbreak in the Simcoe-Muskoka region’s history, as “disgusting” and “foul.” Wood’s mother, 95-year-old Helen Parker, spent nearly two years in the facility before dying there in February 2020, about a week shy of her next birthday and less than a month before the first case of novel coronavirus was reported in the city. “Never having been in a nursing home, I didn’t pay attention to the conditions until my mother went into Roberta Place,” Wood said. “I was happy (when she died). She hated living at Roberta Place. She’s not the only one. Anybody who still has their mind hates living in a nursing home.” Wood visited her mother daily. She said she’d often find the suite dirty and the bathroom toilet covered in dried urine and smeared feces. She watched her mother be served black potatoes and be denied baths. It was clear the facility was short-staffed. Wood lodged multiple complaints, both verbally and through written letters. The conditions never improved, she said. “I did not blame the staff; you can only do so much. I blame it on administration,” said Wood, who was employed as a developmental services worker at Orillia’s Huronia Regional Centre for 30 ye […]

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Family displaced after Elmvale house fire

An Elmvale family had to find somewhere else to sleep last night (Aug. 21) after a fire broke out in their home. Springwater Township Deputy fire Chief Jeff French said firefighters were called to the Nash Avenue home around 6:30 p.m. after a fire started in the kitchen area. “Four people were (home) at the time and two of them were treated for minor smoke inhalation,” French said. Crews were able to put the fire out and damage has been estimated at $75,000. French said the fire started as a result of an air fryer sitting on top of the stove. “The occupants have been displaced for now, due to extensive smoke that filled the house.”

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Simcoe North Liberal candidate Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux

Name: Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux Riding: Simcoe North Party: Age: 64 Occupation: Chair, truth and reconciliation, Lakehead University (three years as vice provost, five as chair). Residence: Orillia. Past political experience: “I have run in two other elections and learned a great deal about the system. I have worked at several levels of government over the years, provincially and federally. I was a Vice Chief for the Anishnabek Nations for eight years and have lots of board and organizational experience, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous.” Have you been vaccinated? Why or why not?: “Yes, I was vaccinated in January 2021 and February 2021. I trust science, and I do not trust the virus and its mutations. I vaccinated my children when they were babies for whooping cough and all the other required shots and did not hesitate to do so. My granddaughter is also receiving her baby vaccines. I also receive the annual flu shot and trust this long-standing method of stimulating my immune system to protect my life and those around me. I have a choice, and my choice is to get vaccinated.” “If elected, I pledge to listen respectfully and thoughtfully to the concerns of Simcoe North riding residents. To stand firmly and strongly in Parliament on their behalf. To be honourable and truthful about what I can and cannot do, to not make false promises, and to give my very best.”

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Township of Tiny presents $1,000 bursaries to five students

At Tiny Township’s Aug. 11 council meeting, Mayor George Cornell and members of council presented bursaries of $1,000 each to five students entering their first year of post-secondary education. The recipients are: Adrianna Desroches, Emma Robillard, Michael Bennett, Quade Post and Zoe Baxter. The Township of Tiny bursary program is designed to assist students who are entering their post-secondary education, including courses and training programs of a technical and vocational nature. Applications are released in February of each year and are open to children of permanent and seasonal taxpayers in the Township of Tiny. In 2021, 28 applications were received. For more information about the program, and to view this year’s recipient essay responses, visit .

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Stepmother chronicles Innisfil family’s tragedy in her book, ‘The Majewski Curse’

A tragic tale of an Innisfil family is chronicled in a new book called “.” But, despite the untimely deaths of Brandon, Devon and Derek Majewski, the author ends her memoir with a message of hope. Brandon, 17, was killed Oct. 28, 2012 while riding his bike along , in a controversial crash that involved the wife of a York Regional Police officer. Devon, 23, died of an accidental overdose less than six months later on May 5, 2013 in the family’s Innisfil home. Father Derek, 58, passed away of cancer in December 2017 at Hospice Simcoe, after suffering years of depression and PTSD following the sudden deaths of his sons. Lisa McInnes, Derek’s wife and stepmother to the boys, also suffered severe emotional trauma, which led to years of therapy, culminating in her self-published book. The manuscript started out as a recommendation by her psychiatrist to create a journal documenting her horrific experiences. “She wanted me to put it on paper and get it all out,” McInnes said. “Once it was all out, she said, ‘This is an incredible story; you should write a book’.” Writing the book brought out a torrent of emotions that included anger and frustration over what the family felt was stonewalling by South Simcoe Police over questions about the investigation into the crash. Sharlene Simon, the driver, was cleared following an , which confirmed the South Simcoe probe. “It was police policing police. As a parent, it was so fru […]

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Today’s coronavirus news: Unvaccinated people 8 times more likely to get infected, top doctor says; Ontario reporting 321 COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Tuesday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available. 6:47 p.m.: With Ontario seeing more than three straight weeks of growth in daily COVID-19 cases — primarily in people who have not been vaccinated — the province is “most definitely” in a fourth wave, says a top doctor with the government’s science advisory table. And with the number of new cases currently doubling every 10 days, Dr. Peter Juni, scientific director of the science table, warns the province could see as many as 1,200 new cases per day by the time school resumes in less than a month. That’s up from a current average of just over 300. 6:40 p.m.: Toronto is in the early days of a fourth wave of COVID-19 certain to worsen this autumn, experts say after an almost fivefold jump in daily new infections over one month. The question now is how to ensure the city’s high vaccination rate prevents hospitalizations and deaths from surging along with infections, especially among the legions of unvaccinated young schoolchildren headed back to classrooms. Defences include continued mask rules and, if necessary, shutting schools and businesses to halt outbreaks, said Toronto infectious diseases expert Dr. Anna Banerji. But she said the best defence is vaccine mandates — . (Updated) 4:30 p.m. Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore is forecasting a “slow […]

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Simcoe County Rovers announce co-owner Cyle Larin

The are delighted to announce Canadian international star Cyle Larin has joined the club as a co-owner. Larin, a prolific attacking player for the Canadian national soccer team and Beşiktaş (Turkish Super League), has acquired a minority stake in Rovers Sports and Entertainment Group. Larin joins fellow Canadian soccer icon Julian de Guzman as co-owners in the Rovers group, along with several other individuals. De Guzman is Canada’s most capped senior men’s player and the first Canadian to play in Spain’s La Liga. De Guzman adds, “We are hyper-focused on attracting a number of high preforming individuals to the club to promote our female and male programs. Cyle is playing at the highest level internationally with Canada and at club level with Beşiktaş. He is known through the international soccer world and will bring tremendous amounts of knowledge and experiences to our players, and a vast network for our club. Bringing in Cyle is a massive coup for Simcoe County, the Rovers, and Ontario’s youth soccer community.” The Club will launch senior high-performance male and female programs in 2022.

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Doctors feeling anxious, burned out after a year of dealing with the pandemic, survey finds

They’re tired, anxious and, over a few days in late February, they didn’t think the was going all that well. As Ontario lurches toward the first anniversary of the pandemic lockdown, the province’s doctors are burned out just like the rest of us, a new survey has found. “Physicians are experiencing the same types of restrictions and social isolation as the rest of Canadians,” said Ann Collins, president of the Canadian Medical Association. The survey, conducted by the CMA between Feb. 18 and 22, found that 65 per cent of roughly 1,700 respondents said they were having anxiety around the pandemic. And over the last year, the survey indicates, their fatigue has increased by 69 per cent. More than 60 per cent of respondents said the reasons for their negative feelings included the length of the social restrictions and the continued uncertainty over the future. And yet, according to Collins, the survey found that only about 16 per cent of respondents indicated that they had reached out to someone else for help. “They are using self-help measures,” Collins said. “But very few of them are seeking help (from others). That means that we have work to do in terms of why that is.” The survey, that aimed to gauge the mental well-being among Canada’s doctors, also revealed that in late February, at least, when the survey was offered, the physicians felt the vaccine rollout across the country was rocky. A whopping 93 per cent of r […]

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Public meeting set for large residential development in Beeton fast-tracked by MZO process

A date has been set for a virtual public meeting to present the details of a large residential development in Beeton that was approved through a minister’s zoning order (MZO) earlier this year. According to the proposal that’s before the Town of New Tecumseth for review, FLATO’s development at the 67.4-hectare property, , just west of Beeton, will consist of 580 homes and 400 rental apartment units for seniors. The 580 homes include 287 semi-detached units, 42 semi-detached units, and 251 townhomes. The lands would also include a commercial area, a community urban agricultural area, parks, a stormwater management pond, and a network of trails and open spaces. The majority of council voted in favour of requesting the MZO last fall. It was approved by the province in March of this year. While the development was fast-tracked by the province, it is still subject to site plan approval at the local level. Residents will have the chance to comment on the development at the meeting taking place Oct. 20 starting at 7 p.m. The meeting will be livestreamed on the Residents wishing to make deputations need to register with the clerk’s office. This can be done by

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Doug Ford urged to create a vaccine passport before the fourth wave hits

A sharp rise in Ontario’s COVID-19 cases has business groups turning up the heat on Premier Doug Ford to implement a program. Concerned a fourth wave this fall could force a return to public health restrictions with more than 4 million Ontarians still unvaccinated — including kids under 12 not yet eligible — passport advocates maintain the best defence is a good offence. “The last thing anyone wants is to be shut down but that’s what will happen if we don’t use every tool in the tool kit,” Ontario Chamber of Commerce President Rocco Rossi said Monday. “It’s about mitigating risk as much as possible. We’re going to be living with this for a while.” A vaccine passport or certificate program would allow restaurants, gyms, cinemas, theatres, sport and concert venues and other non-essential operations to offer entry only to people who have been fully vaccinated or have a recent negative test result for COVID-19. It makes even more sense now that Canada began allowing fully vaccinated Americans with a negative test to enter the country at land border points on Monday, Rossi added. “The logic is essentially the same.” But it’s difficult for individual businesses to develop and implement their own systems so governments need to take the lead, preventing a cumbersome patchwork that could leave some open to protests and challenges, said Ryan Mallough of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (C […]

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