COVID-19: Public has mixed reaction to N.B. move to green

The decision by Premier Blaine Higgs to move to the green phase of COVID-19 public safety measures regardless of where the vaccination totals fall has garnered some mixed reactions from the public.

On Friday, Higgs made the announcement alongside Chief Medical Officer of Health Jennifer Russell, who thanked New Brunswickers for their hard work in the continued battle against COVID-19.

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“There will be no provincial restrictions. Period,” Higgs said Friday.

The move comes at odds with previous messaging given by the government and Public Health about reaching the target of 75 per cent of eligible residents who would be fully vaccinated.

Traveller Jamie Hunter said that in his most recent visit to Prince Edward Island, it was a little uncomfortable being around people without masks on.

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“I think it’s exciting, but it is a little unnerving,” he said in an interview Friday. “We’ve been in protocols for so long and distancing. We’re in P.E.I. — P.E.I. removed their masks weeks ago, and I was standing in a store in Montague, and everybody except me wasn’t wearing a mask. They didn’t have a mask on — I found that unnerving.”

Others were overjoyed, saying in street interviews with Global News they felt confident with the current rates of vaccination.

Many people Global News spoke to outside the Fredericton Boyce Farmers Market said they are more than ready to get back to ‘normal’ because COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere soon. Others still said they wished the government had waited just a little longer.

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As of July 30 at 11:59 p.m., officials said there will be no more limits on gatherings or the number of people allowed in theatres, restaurants and stores, and that masks will not be required in public.

However, the province said some facilities and businesses may choose to maintain their policies on protective health measures.

New Brunswick makes milestone over the weekend

With just a week left before the end of the emergency order that began in March 2020, New Brunswick also hit 1,000,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

First doses of the vaccine sit at 81.4 per cent, and fully vaccinated New Brunswickers are at 63.6 per cent of those eligible for the vaccine.

There were no new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, with 10 active cases. No one is in hospital.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

COVID-19: Saskatchewan reports 340 active cases, 46 added

There are 340 active COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan as health officials reported 46 new cases on Saturday.

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The seven-day average of daily new cases is now 36 or three per 100,000 people.

One new death was also reported on Saturday.

There are 63 COVID-19 patients in hospital including 11 in the ICU.

The far north east reported the highest amount of new cases on Saturday with 10, followed by Regina with nine.

Health care workers administered 6,856 COVID-19 vaccine doses since the province’s last report on Friday.

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A total of 625,944 residents are now fully vaccinated.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

R. Kelly allegedly had sexual contact with an underaged boy, prosecutors claim

Warning: Disturbing content. Discretion advised. WATCH: Minnesota county attorney announces new sex charges against R. Kelly

Federal prosecutors in R. Kelly’s sex trafficking case say he had sexual contact with an underage boy in addition to girls, and the government wants jurors in his upcoming sex trafficking trial to hear those claims.

Prosecutors aired a wide-ranging raft of additional allegations — but not new charges — against the R&B star in a court filing Friday. Jury selection is due to start Aug. 9 in a New York federal court for Kelly, who denies ever abusing anyone.

A message was sent Saturday to his lawyers about the additional allegations.

Read more:
R. Kelly charged in Minnesota with prostitution, solicitation involving a minor

The Grammy Award-winning singer is charged with leading what prosecutors call a criminal enterprise of managers, bodyguards and other employees who allegedly helped him recruit women and girls for sex and pornography and to exercise a lot of control over them.

The charges involve six different women and girls, who aren’t named in court filings.

Now, prosecutors would also like jurors to hear about more than a dozen other people whom the government alleges that Kelly sexually or physically abused, threatened or otherwise mistreated.

Among them, the government says, was a 17-year-old boy and aspiring musician whom Kelly met at a McDonald’s in December 2006 and later invited to his Chicago studio. After asking the boy what he would do to make it in the music business, Kelly propositioned and had sexual contact with him while he was still underage, according to prosecutors’ court filing.

And when Kelly was about to go on trial on child pornography charges in Chicago in 2008, the same youth told the singer he had access to a juror, and Kelly asked him to contact the juror and vouch he was a “good guy,” prosecutors wrote.

The filing doesn’t say whether the youth did so. Kelly was acquitted in that case.

The boy also introduced Kelly to a 16- or 17-year-old male friend, with whom prosecutors say the singer began a sexual relationship several years later. Kelly also filmed the two youths in sexual encounters with other people, including some of Kelly’s girlfriends, according to the filing.

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Prosecutors wrote that the accounts of the boys and others would help show that the actual charges “were not isolated events and were part of a larger pattern.”

The multiplatinum-selling singer, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, is known for work including the 1996 hit “I Believe I Can Fly” and the cult classic “Trapped in the Closet,” a multi-part tale of sexual betrayal and intrigue.

Kelly’s sex life has drawn scrutiny since the 1990s, and he currently is also facing sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota. He has pleaded not guilty.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

Man arrested after pickup truck crashes into Montreal business: police

A man was arrested for possible drunk driving after his vehicle crashed into a store in Montreal.

An emergency call was placed at about 2:30 a.m., indicating that a pickup truck smashed into a business front door in the Rivière-des-Prairies  area of Montreal.

Montreal police arrived at the scene and found the 33-year-old man without any visible injuries.

READ MORE: 24-year-old Montrealer killed in Florida building collapse was visiting with best friend

Montreal police spokeswoman Caroline Chèvrefils says the man appeared to be intoxicated and was transported to a detention centre for a breathalyzer test.

Chèvrefils says that the store damages were mostly found inside, without specifying the name of the business.

The investigation is ongoing and charges are yet to be laid.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

Search crews looking for missing Edmonton man in Wabamun Lake

Search crews are combing Wabamun Lake, west of Edmonton, after a swimmer disappeared Friday evening.

RCMP told Global News a 20-year-old man was swimming near a boat around 9 p.m. near Kapasiwin when he ended up in distress and didn’t surface.

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The fire department arrived to help with a boat, but there was no sign of the man.

They were back at the scene Saturday, along with dive search crews and the RCMP’s sonar equipment.

RCMP recently said hot weather has resulted in Albertans flocking to lakes and rivers to enjoy recreational water activities such as tubing, paddle boarding and swimming — which has unfortunately resulted in injuries and fatalities.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Nk’Mip Creek wildfire: 126 more properties ordered to evacuate

More than 100 properties were told to evacuate on Saturday because of the Nk’Mip Creek wildfire that’s burning near Osoyoos.

Estimated at 6,800 hectares and deemed to be out of control by the BC Wildfire Service, the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) ordered an additional 126 properties to evacuate in and around the Baldy Mountain neighbourhood.

According to the regional district, the total number of properties now under evacuation order is 248, and 318 properties remain on evacuation alert until further notice.

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Nk’Mip Creek wildfire: Osoyoos Indian Band rescinds evacuation order for handful of addresses

Previously, the area now under evacuation order had been under an evacuation alert that had been issued on Tuesday.

“The BC Wildfire Service confirmed with the RDKB overnight that residents would need to leave the area this morning,” the regional district said in a press release.

The RDKB says the evacuation order area includes Mt. Baldy Ski Resort extending east to include the west side of Fish Lake West Road, Belchrome Forest Service Road and Conkle Lake Provincial Park.

All evacuation orders and alerts, along with a complete list of addresses and maps of the applicable areas, are available at the regional district’s website.

The regional district says anyone ordered to evacuate should gather only essential belongings and exit along Highway 3 toward the Village of Midway, where an evacuation centre is set up at the Boundary Expo Recreation Centre (the arena) at 734 Seventh Avenue.

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen has also issued evacuation orders for properties in the Anarchist Mountain area south of Highway 3. Those orders are available on the regional district’s website.

Earlier Saturday, the Osoyoos Indian Band downgraded an evacuation order to an evacuation alert for a handful of addresses, while the RDOS expanded a previous evacuation order to include two addresses.

BC Wildfire says 146 personnel are on-site, along with five aircraft and 41 pieces of heavy equipment.

A spokesperson said crews are working on structure protection in the north, around Osoyoos Indian Band lands as well as the Shrike Hill area and the south as well, near Anarchist Mountain.

Asked how many structures are being threatened, the spokesperson said “there are a number of structures that have fire near them,” but an estimate or exact number wasn’t provided.

Still, the spokesperson said crews are engaged in protecting them, and that progress is being made around several flanks.

On Saturday afternoon, Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen information officer Erick Thompson said there are now 568 properties under evacuation order, and 136 under alert.

 

 

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

U.S. states draw outside support as wildfires blast through West

WATCH: The psychological effects of wildfire evacuations

Out-of-state crews headed to Montana Saturday to battle a blaze that injured five firefighters as the West struggled with a series of fires that have ravaged rural lands and destroyed homes.

Progress was being made on the nation’s largest blaze, the Bootleg Fire in Oregon, but additional mandatory evacuations were ordered Friday evening and less than half of it had been contained, fire officials said. The growth of the sprawling fire had slowed, but increased fire activity was expected Saturday, and thousands of homes remained threatened on its eastern side, authorities said.

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday proclaimed a state of emergency for four northern counties because of wildfires that he said were causing “conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property.” The proclamation opens the way for more state support.

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On Saturday, fire crews from California and Utah were coming to Montana, Gov. Greg Gianforte announced. Five firefighters were injured Thursday when swirling winds blew flames back on them as they worked on the Devil’s Creek fire burning in rough, steep terrain near the rural town of Jordan.

They remained hospitalized Friday. Bureau of Land Management spokesperson Mark Jacobsen declined to release the extent of their injuries. The firefighters included three U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service crew members from North Dakota and two U.S. Forest Service firefighters from New Mexico.

In California, the Tamarack Fire south of Lake Tahoe continued to burn through timber and chaparral and threatened communities on both sides of the California-Nevada state line. The fire, sparked by lightning July 4 in Alpine County, has destroyed at least 10 buildings.

In Butte County, California, the Dixie Fire continued to burn in rugged and remote terrain, hampering firefighters’ efforts to contain the blaze as it grows eastward, becoming the state’s largest wildfire so far this year.

Heavy smoke from both huge fires lowered visibility and may at times ground aircraft providing support for fire crews on the ground. The air quality south of Lake Tahoe and across the state line into Nevada deteriorated to very unhealthy levels.

In north-central Washington, firefighters battled two blazes in Okanogan County that threatened hundreds of homes and again caused hazardous air quality conditions Saturday. And in northern Idaho, east of Spokane, Washington, a small fire near the Silverwood Theme Park prompted evacuations Friday evening at the park and in the surrounding area. The theme park was back open on Saturday with the fire half contained.

Although hot weather with afternoon winds posed a continued threat of spreading blazes, weekend forecasts also called for a chance of scattered thunderstorms in California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and other states. However, forecasters said some could be dry thunderstorms that produce little rain but a lot of lightning, which can spark new blazes.

More than 85 large wildfires were burning around the country, most of them in Western states, and they had burned over 553,000 hectares of land.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

Disability Rights Coalition wants to see Nova Scotia be more inclusive

In 2013, the incumbent government committed to a ten-year plan for equality, making Nova Scotia fully accessible and promising they would close institutions providing community-based living supports for all persons living with disabilities by 2023.

With 30 months to go, the progress thus far has been glacial. The Disability Rights Coalition is doubtful about seeing the promise of government into fruition.

The DRC conducted a months-long accountability review of the government’s progress on the roadmap for inclusive communities for people with disabilities.

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“I wouldn’t say we were surprised but we were shocked and disappointed by the degree to which the government has failed to move forward on its commitments,” said Claire McNeil who serves as legal counsel for the DRC.

In 2013, a roadmap was designed by a task force consisting of people working in the government and community members which set out a careful step-by-step plan on how to deal with the crisis at the time in terms of excluding people with disabilities and segregating them.

Vicky Levack, who lives with cerebral palsy and is a disability-rights advocate with DRC has been living in a retirement home since she was 21 years old. She says even though she doesn’t live in an institution, it’s not right that her freedom has been violated as her options were limited.

“This care model is designed for people who are at the end of their lives. Not for people in the beginning or trying to live their life so we just need to give people better options so they don’t feel forced to choose like I was.”

Levack wants to see Liberal Party leader Iain Rankin keep the Liberals promise if he is elected premier.

“They had seven years to do something before the pandemic hit and they were dragging their feet, so, I don’t cut them a lot of slack. If they were doing something and had to stop and say, ‘OK, it’s going to be 2025 because the pandemic hit,’ I’d understand that,” said Levack.

Levack feels as though the disability community has been forgotten about.

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NDP Leader, Gary Burrill says this is a major issue for his party. Out of the NDP’s provincial slate of candidates, there are five people with disabilities.

“This is something that is very important and that we value a great deal because those people — we’re so hopeful that we will be able to elect them — will then be able to bring to the caucus table, out of their lived experience the priorities that are needed,” said Burrill.

If elected in the election on Aug. 17, Burrill says the commitment of the NDP is to complete what the Liberals set out to do a decade ago.

“We will move forward getting people out in supportive housing or appropriate group homes,” he said.

PC Leader Tim Houston said although he didn’t see the report, he believes the current government hasn’t done enough for people living with disabilities.

“I think it goes back to a lack of vision and a lack of respect for people,” said Houston.

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Currently, the government, through its Disability Supports program, is assisting fewer people with disabilities than it was in 2013 when it committed to the roadmap.

Levack says she wants whoever is elected to commit to the roadmap so she and others in her community can feel like “full-fledged,” citizens.

She says she has reached out to N.S. Liberal Leader Iain Rankin several times about the issue and his response has been that it is a complicated matter.

“We need to continue to build more small option homes. There is a waitlist that we need to make more traction on. We keep working with community organizations. It’s a hard timeline to meet,” said Rankin at a press briefing on Wednesday in Antigonish.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Kingston asks residents for input in 2022 budget survey

The city of Kingston is beginning development of their 2022 city budget and is encouraging Kingstonian participation in a survey to help shape funding decisions.

As the city of Kingston begins the development of its 2022 city budget, Kingstonians are being encouraged to participate in a survey to help shape funding decisions for the upcoming year.

“This is their tax dollars that we’re spending, and so it’s important that we’re spending it on the right things,” says the city’s chief financial officer and treasurer, Desiree Kennedy.

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Kingston’s Financial Services team took to Springer Market Square on Saturday, looking for feedback and input from residents on the upcoming 2022 city budget.

“We really need to hear from people in terms of what their thoughts are so, at the end of the day, we’re spending on things that are important to people,” says Kennedy.

So far, she says many Kingstonians are hoping the city will spend on affordable housing, keeping taxes low, road maintenance and pandemic recovery for small businesses.

“We will be pulling all of that information together and we’ll be doing a report to council in September that will summarize all of the feedback and the information,” Kennedy says.

The survey data will also be given to respective departments to help inform their budget development.

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Last year’s engagement survey saw just under 400 Kingstonians share their opinions with the city. The Financial Services team is hoping to get over the 500 survey mark this year.

“If you don’t voice your opinion, never hear it,” says Kingstonian Warren Thwing. “Whether they take it or not, that’s a different story. If they don’t, every four years we can throw ya out.”

Janet Town has been working for almost 50 years and says it’s really important to let local government know what’s not working and why low-income people are struggling.

“We have a voice. If we don’t tell you what we need, what’s not working, what is working, how can you do the best for us? And if you’re not doing the best for us, why should we vote for you?” Town says.

The Financial team will be back at Springer Market Square on August 5 to answer questions and gather suggestions, or they have an online survey available virtually.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

5 stabbed, hospital locked down after Alberta biker gangs brawl in Cranbrook, B.C.: police

The East Kootenay community of Cranbrook, B.C., found itself host to a scene better suited to TV’s Sons of Anarchy on Friday, as violence exploded between a pair of rival biker gangs.

Five people were hospitalized with stab wounds after what RCMP described as a brawl between rival gangs from Alberta in Cranbrook on Friday night.

Mounties were called to a gas station on Cranbrook Street North around 7 p.m. to reports of “multiple people fighting,” and were able to separate two groups “determined to be rival outlaw motorcycle gangs.”

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BC Emergency Health Services says paramedics weren’t called to the scene.

But officers were later called to Cranbrook’s hospital, where police say five people turned up on their own with non-life-threatening stab wounds.

Interior Health confirmed the hospital was locked down on advice from police.

The RCMP said officers were stationed in the parking lot to prevent further violence between the gangs, “who had attended the hospital, but were refused entry.”

The stabbing victims were released after treatment, and officers escorted one group out of town, police said.

Read more:
Nova Scotia RCMP say outlaw biker gathering to be held in Annapolis Valley

 

No arrests were made.

The Cranbrook RCMP and the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit — B.C.’s provincial gang squad — continue to investigate.

Police said there was no indication the brawl was linked to the ongoing Lower Mainland gang conflict.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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