HOME Program relaunches in London, Ont. with hope for sustainable funding

The Health Outreach Mobile Engagement (HOME) Program is back on the streets of London, Ont., and officials say there is hope that an upcoming city-wide plan to combat homelessness will provide sustainable funding.

The program looks to provide health services directly to clients by meeting them where they are, be it shelters, encampments, housing or other community settings.

The HOME Program is a partnership between Canadian Mental Health Association Thames Valley Addiction and Mental Health Services (CMHA TVAMHS), London Cares, London InterCommunity Health Centre (LIHC), Middlesex-London Paramedic Service (MLPS) and Regional HIV/AIDS Connection (RHAC).

Along with resources from the aforementioned partners, the program also receives funding from Health Canada and Ontario Health.

Since its launch in January 2021, the program has lent help to people on more than 5,600 occasions at nine different sites in London’s downtown core.

An evaluation of its first year in operation, which ran from Jan. 11, 2021 to Jan. 10, 2022, found that 1,059 unique clients accessed medical and wraparound care services through the HOME Program.

A client survey in the evaluation found that 100 per cent of respondents find it easier to access care because of the HOME Program, with 92 per cent saying they would recommend it to others.

The results for a survey of program partners found that 95 per cent of respondents “reported the coordination of services for highly marginalized individuals in London has improved,” while 88 per cent “feel better able to support highly marginalized individuals in London.”

Greg Nash, the director of complex urban health for LIHC, says the amount of people the program has already served shows the need is clear.

“This is a response that community organizations said needs to happen, just to provide basic human dignity,” Nash said.

The program officially returned to London on Tuesday, but had relaunched quietly at the end of November in an effort to test the changes being brought on for the newest edition of HOME, Nash said.

This includes a brand new 27-foot bus acquired last year.

“We were able to gut the inside of it and purpose-build to meet the needs, so it has a lovely little entrance space — reception and consultation area at the front — triage space and then an exam room at the back,” Nash added.

While there are a few new additions, Nash says it’s basically the same program that community partners and clients have familiarized themselves with. This includes having the program’s bus deliver services directly to clients two days a week, with an SUV being deployed three days a week to assist HOME staff in providing care.

“We’re doing primary care, acute medical care — triage level four and five, so wound care, frostbite, a whole host of respiratory symptoms — as well as harm reduction, social services, basic needs like food and water,” Nash said.

Sleeping bags, tarps and tents are also available for clients accessing the program.

Despite its success, Nash says the program is in dire need of sustainable funding.

Part of the HOME Program’s current funding will run out at the end of March, leaving certain partners unable to stay on board, with the entirety of its funding set to end by March 31, 2024.

There is hope, however, in the upcoming plan from the Health and Homelessness Summit, a massive group led by city hall that’s focused on combatting local homelessness.

During his State of the City Address, Mayor Josh Morgan teased an upcoming plan from the summit that would create a “permanent and sustainable system” to help those experiencing homelessness.

Nash says there have been “strong indications” that the summit plans on providing sustainable funding to the HOME Program.

“We’re very confident because of the strong evaluation, the strong buy-in by community partners and the strong buy-in by allies who also provide these sort of services,” Nash added.

The summit’s upcoming plan will be presented to city councillors on Feb. 28, giving the group of municipal politicians, as well as the public, their first glimpse of what’s to come.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Winter storm warning issued for Prince George, B.C.

Residents in the Prince George region of northern B.C., are being warned that heavy snowfall will be continuing until Wednesday afternoon.

Environment Canada has put a winter storm warning into effect for the area, cautioning 30 to 40 centimeters is expected.

“A Pacific frontal system has stalled over the BC Interior giving a prolonged snow event. Heavy snow is ongoing and will persist through Wednesday,” the warning reads.

The warning covers communities along Highway 16 from Fraser Lake to McBridge, including Vanderhoof and Prince George, Fort St. James, as well as the area from Highway 97 to McLeese Lake to Bear Lake, including Quesnel.

Also falling under the bulletin are the Northern Cariboo Mountains including Wells and Barkerville and the Yellowhead and Yellowhead Highway from Tête Jaune Cache to the Alberta border.

Environment Canada also warns visibility on roads will be limited and conditions may be difficult. Residents are asked to consider postponing non-essential travel.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

NDP calls Russian sanctions 'political theatre' as data shows little action on assets

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reaffirmed Canada’s support for Ukraine as it continues to fend off Russia’s invasion on a call with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday. Zelenskyy said in a tweet that he informed Trudeau about “the situation at the front and Ukraine’s defense needs in armored vehicles, artillery and aviation.”

The NDP is accusing the Liberals of basing their sanctions regime on “political theatre” as data suggest few funds have been frozen and none have been seized.

“This government constantly pats themselves on the back for adding individuals to the sanctions list,” NDP MP Heather McPherson said Tuesday in the House of Commons.

“The Liberals claim sanctions are a key piece of our foreign response, but there is no enforcement, there’s no investigation and there is almost no seizing of assets.”

The federal government has been announcing sanctions almost weekly that bar people associated with authoritarian regimes from having financial dealings in Canada and from entering the country.

Yet publicly released RCMP data show barely any change in the amount of money frozen in Canadian bank accounts between June and December of last year, despite hundreds of people being added to sanctions lists.

As of June 7, Canada had ordered frozen $123 million in assets within Canada, and $289 million in transactions had been blocked, both under sanctions prohibitions related to Russia.

By late December, the RCMP said $122 million in assets were listed as seized, and $292 million in transactions had been blocked _ despite hundreds more people associated with Russia being put on the sanctions list.

The RCMP also noted in late December that no banks had informed them of any sanctioned Haitians or Iranians holding assets in Canada.

Meanwhile, parliamentary disclosures requested by McPherson show that Ottawa has still not used a law it passed last June that allows the government to take possession of funds from sanctioned people and divert them to victims of wrongdoing.

The government issued an order for the restraint of property in December to start the process of forfeiting US$26 million held by a firm owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, but it has yet to file an application in court.

McPherson argues that Canada is using sanctions as a symbolic tool, without taking the steps to actually disincentivize support for autocracies.

Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly responded to the criticism by offering to work with the NDP on using sanctions to forfeit assets and divert them.

“We’re the first country in the world doing this, and we will lead,” she told the Commons.

“We’ve imposed extremely strong sanctions against Russian oligarchs, Belarusian oligarchs, Haiti elite members as well as Iranians.”

Sanctions experts have long argued that Canada lacks the means to properly monitor its regime, such as by tracking financial transactions and following how assets are traded.

For years, the U.S. State Department has deemed Canada to be a “major money laundering country” due to its weak enforcement of laws.

In March 2022, the department included Canada in a published list of 80 countries it considers to have inadequate tracking of financial dealings.

Canada’s new law on forfeiting assets is the first among G7 countries that attempts to seize financial holdings using sanctions law.

Analysts and lawyers have said it marks a major change in how countries use sanctions, which are normally created as temporary measures to try changing behaviour, with the idea of later unfreezing accounts.

The new law instead seeks to punish the people accused of human-rights abuses. The funds can only be used to compensate victims, rebuild affected states or support peace initiatives.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

Boy picks shipping container for hide-and-seek, ends up 2,500 km from home

A simple game of hide-and-seek turned into a 2,500-kilometre mishap after a Bangladeshi teen fell asleep inside a shipping container and was sent to Malaysia.

The 15-year-old boy, identified only by his first name, Fahim, was playing the game with his friends at Bangladesh’s Chittagong seaport on Jan. 11 when he found what he thought was the perfect place to hide – the inside of an open shipping container.

The only problem is that Fahim accidentally locked himself inside and couldn’t figure out how to open the doors.

Sure enough, no one could hear the 15-year-old’s cries for help, and the container was loaded onto a Malaysia-bound commercial vessel, reports the Times of India.

According to various media reports, the teen spent between five and six days inside the container as the boat made its 2,500-kilometre journey to Malaysia’s Klang port, docking on Jan. 17.

It was his cries for help and pounding on the container walls that tipped off the Klang Port Authority to his existence.

Video shared online, and verified by the Times of India, appears to show the boy emerging from the container before being taken away on a stretcher.

At first, because the boy didn’t speak the language and couldn’t explain to his rescuers how he ended up in such a predicament, police thought that he was a victim of human trafficking.

“He was the only one found in the container. A police report was lodged and as he was having a fever, he was taken for medical examination,” Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, Malaysia’s home minister, was quoted as saying by the country’s national news agency Bernama.

However, while Fahim was in hospital, police learned that he was simply a kid playing a game that landed him in a precarious situation.

“Investigations found no elements of human trafficking. The boy is just believed to have entered the container, fell asleep and found himself here,” Ismail said on Jan. 20.

Fahim will be repatriated to Bangladesh.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Regina lotto worker caps 32-year career with $250K win just before retirement

WATCH: If you bought a lottery ticket at Victoria Square Shopping Centre in the past three decades, chances are you bought it from Ken Dorsch.

Over more than 32 years working the lottery booth at Victoria Square Shopping Centre, Ken Dorsch has seen it all — million-dollar ticket winners, fashion trends from crop tops to cargo pants, and a whole lot of change.

“When I first started there was a lot of manual labour. We had to take tickets home with us and count them all. Now it’s all done on the machine, basically,” Dorsch said during a small retirement party at the mall Tuesday.

“Over the years there’s been so many changes here. A lot of stores have come and gone. Now it seems to be coming back to life. I’m hoping that’s going to keep on going.”

But the highlight of that career may have come just a month before it ended.

With retirement already in sight, Dorsch decided to play a $10 ticket while waiting for business to pick up one morning.

That ticket won him a cool $250,000.

Victoria Square Shopping Centre staff held a small farewell party for Dorsch on his last day.

Victoria Square Shopping Centre staff held a small farewell party for Dorsch on his last day.

Dave Parsons / Global News

“I was shocked to say the least. It worked out fantastic for me. I’ll add it to my retirement dreams,” said Dorsch.

“This thing changed my outlook on what I’m going to do. Right now I’m investing most of it and maybe saving some to buy a vehicle and a few other small things.”

Mall marketing coordinator Jordan Myers says while it was nice to see Dorsch go out with a bang, his presence will be missed around the concourse.

“It’s tough shoes to fill. Almost everyone here knows him. He really was a staple of this mall,” Myers said.

“When I first started here Ken was the first person to take the time to get to know me and talk to me. He’d be my go-to if I wanted to know more about the mall, or what I could do to improve. Without his insight I’m not sure     .”

Dorsch says he’ll continue to visit the mall in retirement, to visit with friends and to continue dining at beloved food court spots like Trifon’s Pizza and Supreme China Bistro (Kraut Haven was his go-to spot, but the well known vendor ended its own multi-decade run at the mall last year).

He says he’ll probably stop by his old lottery booth as well, to reminisce on a career he says he’s been lucky to have and maybe buy a few more tickets too.

“I enjoyed the work. I was pretty much my own boss, you know, and the years flew by. What more can a person ask?” Dorsch reflected.

“It’s been a good life so far.”

The lottery booth, which is run through an agreement with Sask Lotteries, will continue to operate.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Schreiner emphasizes being 'open and transparent' on Liberal leadership invite

Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner says he owes it to his constituents in Guelph, Ont., to talk to them, after a letter circulated online encouraging him to run for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party.

A number of high-ranking officials from the provincial Liberals issued an open letter on Sunday, calling on Schreiner to step away from the Greens and run for the leadership of their party.

But Schreiner has said repeatedly that he will talk it over with residents and Green Party supporters before making a decision.

“I want to do this in a way that is open and transparent,” Schreiner told CJOY and Global News on Tuesday. “I think I owe it to people to think about this letter and how to respond to it.”

After initially turning it down, Schreiner said there were some factors that led him to mull over the offer.

“When I received the letter, it challenged me to think about if I might work differently to really push the issues that I’m working hard to advance.”

Schreiner became the leader of the Ontario Green Party in 2006. He was first elected as MPP for Guelph in 2018. Schreiner was re-elected in the 2022 provincial election last June and remains the only elected member of his party in the Ontario legislature.

The Liberals finished in third place for the second consecutive election behind the victorious Progressive Conservatives and the second-place NDP. That election saw then-Liberal leader Steven Del Duca step down from the position after he was unable to win the seat in a Toronto-area riding.

One former Liberal leadership candidate who lost out to Del Duca penned the open letter to Schreiner.

“A group of people shared a feeling that he should enter the race and we want to say so publicly,” said Kate Graham, who added this is not part of some master plan.

Schreiner says he has already heard from some people to go after the Liberal leadership while others are not totally convinced.

“I’ve had some people say, ‘Don’t do it’,” Schreiner said. “I’ve had a lot people say to me, ‘This is something you should think about because we need something bold to push back against the Ford government’.”

There has been no timetable or parameters set by the Ontario Liberal Party to name their next leader.

— with files from Isaac Callan and Colin D’Mello

 

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Francophone seniors association calls for change after closure of 2 care homes in Neguac, N.B.

The NB Francophone Seniors' Association is calling for better conditions in nursing homes. This comes after the recent closure of two nursing homes in Neguac on the Acadian Peninsula. Suzanne Lapointe reports.

The NB Francophone Seniors’ Association said it would like to see the two recently closed nursing homes in Neguac managed by a non-profit, naming Villa Providence Shediac Inc., which already operates a care home in Neguac, as a possible candidate in a release issued on Tuesday.

Both Villa Neguac and Foyer Saint-Bernard had their licences revoked by the province in late January, with both set to close on Feb. 17.

The Department of Social Development did not give the reasons for the closures, citing confidentiality.

The association released a report last June calling for sweeping reforms of the long-term care system.

At a press conference held on Tuesday, association administrator for the Fredericton and Saint John region Norma Dubé said since they released their report, their organization has had one meeting with the Social Development deputy minister.

“I think we made the point very well that the issue was urgent and action was required then,” she said.

She said her organization feels the report has been brushed off.

“It’s been seven-and-a-half months and there’s been no changes,” she said.

In a statement sent to Global News on Tuesday afternoon, a representative for Social Development said the department “looks forward to working with Association Francophone des ainés du Nouveau-Brunswick and all New Brunswickers to implement transformative measures required to improve the lives of seniors.”

“The Department of Social Development intends on introducing new measures and a path forward for improved senior care over the next few months,” they said, stopping short of giving any specifics.

Dubé said her organization was told they would hear of a new plan at the end of January.

“If they still work want to us. We have been knocking at the door, they need to let us in,” Dubé.

Many seniors at the meeting spoke up on issues in care homes.

Among them was Jacques Verge, secretary for Égalité santé en français, a lobbying group advocating to maintain linguistic duality in health care.

“A nursing home or hospital is no place for someone to end their days,” he told Global News in French, saying he wants to see more resources in helping seniors stay home as long as possible.

Liberal Opposition social development critic Robert Gauvin said urgent action is needed.

“What happened in Neguac could potentially happen anywhere,” he said in an interview on Tuesday.

“I think all 49 MLAs should put their heads together, put everything aside, and make sure to find a solution where we can get involved in protecting the seniors (affected by the closures.)”

He said the Liberal caucus is working on a plan it will present to the legislature during its spring session.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Alberta promising changes to campuses amid university 'woke' free speech standoff

The Alberta government says changes are coming to further protect free speech on campuses as a former professor speaking out on so-called “woke” policies prepares for a showdown with the University of Lethbridge.

Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides says in a statement he will be announcing the changes in the coming days but did not give further details.

He says he was responding to the case of Frances Widdowson, a former tenured professor at Calgary’s Mount Royal University invited by a University of Lethbridge professor to speak this week about her concerns that a mob mentality and “woke policies” increasingly threaten academic freedom.

Widdowson was fired from Mount Royal in late 2021 amid controversy over her comments lauding the educational benefits of Canada’s residential school system while questioning whether the abuses of the schools against Indigenous children could be called genocide.

The University of Lethbridge granted Widdowson space for the event but cancelled it this week after deciding her views would not advance the residential schools debate and would cause harm by minimizing the pain and suffering inflicted on First Nations children and families.

Widdowson says she plans to deliver the speech on campus Wednesday afternoon anyway and has challenged school security to toss her out.

Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley says Nicolaides needs to reconsider his statements, adding he is being distressingly tone-deaf to students _ particularly Indigenous ones _ who would otherwise have to host a guest lecturer espousing the virtues of schools stained by the legacy of horrific abuse.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

New Brunswick looks to other jurisdictions for nurses amid ongoing shortage

WATCH: Provinces in our region are trying to do whatever they can to fill thousands of position in the health-care system. As Zack Power reports, experts say a unified approach would help recruitment and retention.

Shortly after Ontario outlined it would allow health-care workers registered in other Canadian jurisdictions to immediately practise in Ontario without having to register with a provincial regulatory college, New Brunswick moved on to Quebec, poaching nurses at a career fair.

Officials from Vitalité Health Network told Global News that they anticipate being at several career fairs in the next few weeks, making stops in Chicoutimi, Montreal and Rimouski in an attempt to alleviate a critical nursing shortage.

“It should be noted that recruitment from other Canadian provinces is not new,” stated Frederic Finn, vice president of employee experience with Vitalité, in a statement to Global News.

“Vitalité Health Network recognizes the current health human resources challenge and is working with the Department of Health and Horizon Health Network to find solutions. We also recognize that all Canadian provinces and jurisdictions are facing this same challenge.”

Researchers in Nova Scotia aren’t surprised by the moves, saying that shortages have been in the sightlines for a significant period of time.

Dr. Gail Tomblin Murphy, vice-president of research with Nova Scotia Health, said she has seen many health-care professionals leaving the province looking for a change in workload and looking for better opportunities.

She said that opening the doors to having workers not need to register with regulatory colleges could ease some of the issues in health-care systems in Atlantic Canada, noting that possibly working on licensing with other eastern jurisdictions may be beneficial.

“There’s a different way we could be doing this,” told Murphy on Tuesday. “In Atlantic Canada, we could be looking differently than doing it in all four provinces.”

Almost all doctors in Canada support changes to medical licensing that would make it easier for health workers to see patients anywhere in the country, according to a new survey.

The Canadian Medical Association online survey of more than 5,000 working and retired physicians and medical learners found 95 per cent would like to see a pan-Canadian licensing program adopted in Canada. The survey was conducted Nov. 18-30, 2022.

“Multi-jurisdictional licenses have actually improved the mobility of workers across the United States and Australia,” told Dr. Kathleen Ross of the Association.

“There would be very little desire to have job fairs and recruit to other areas if the standards were the same across the country.”

Ross said that opening up pan-Canadian licensing would open the doors to more nurses in rural and northern parts of Canada.

According to the New Brunswick nursing union, there are roughly 1,000 vacant positions across the province.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

1 person in custody after baby taken to hospital with serious injuries in Markham: police

A baby has been taken to hospital with serious injuries and one person is in custody in Markham, Ont., police say.

York Regional Police said officers were called to a hotel on Woodbine Avenue and Highway 7 at around 2:10 p.m. on Tuesday.

Police said a baby was located with serious injuries and was rushed to hospital.

According to police, a man was taken into custody.

“There is no threat to public safety,” police said in the tweet.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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