• Local Journalism Initiative

    New COVID-19 death in Haldimand-Norfolk as active cases near 300

    A resident of Haldimand-Norfolk has died of COVID-19 as the health unit struggles to trace contacts of infected residents. The death, announced Thursday without any additional information, brings the COVID-19 death toll to 41. According to the health unit, 22 residents tested positive on Wednesday and 18 were deemed to have recovered from their bout with the virus, pushing the active case count to 291. Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, Haldimand-Norfolk’s chief medical officer of health, told reporters contact tracing has been “curtailed” because of the sheer volume of new cases. More than 1,000 residents are currently in self-isolation. Nesathurai said health unit projections predict 60 new cases every day if the spread of the virus is not slowed over the next two weeks. The health unit is managing an outbreak at Grandview Lodge in Dunnville, where one resident of the long-term-care home has tested positive, as well as monitoring COVID-19 cases among quarantining migrant workers at six area farms. On the vaccine front, just shy of 33,000 doses have been administered in Haldimand-Norfolk, with 2,349 residents fully vaccinated. A clinic at Norfolk General Hospital recently passed the 10,000-dose milestone, while Hauser’s Pharmacy in Dunnville — one of four local pharmacies designated by the province as local vaccine hubs on April 1 — has already topped 1,000 shots. Mass immunization clinics at the Delhi and Cayuga arenas are booked to capacity, with more appointments being added to meet demand. Norfolk EMS chief Sarah Page said everyone with an appointment will be vaccinated, but the health unit might be unable to book new appointments come early May without more vaccine supply from the province. On Six Nations, just under half of the 21 active COVID-19 cases screened positive for a more contagious variant of concern. Three new cases were reported Thursday afternoon, with one band member currently in hospital. Ten band members have died of COVID-19, with 438 recoveries out of 469 total cases. Some 2,211 band members are partially vaccinated, with 676 having received both doses. J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator

  • Local Journalism Initiative

    Kick-off to Haliburton community safety plan

    The County of Haliburton and OPP kicked off the formal process to create a community safety and wellbeing plan April 12. A steering committee made up of councillors and Haliburton Highlands OPP acting commander Sgt. Dan Collings held a kickoff meeting for the plan. The provincially-mandated document would outline how different sectors - including municipalities, policing, social, education and health - can collaborate to address community risks and service gaps. Coun. Brent Devolin said this could help break down some of the barriers that exist between different sectors. “ This has the potential, both from policing and mental health and a bunch of other things, to remove a bunch of these silos,” Devolin said. “The players are at the table collectively, which I think is a huge advantage.” The County has hired Toronto-based consultant StrategyCorp to help develop the plan. An advisory table made up of the different sectors will guide the process. The consultant said the process should leave a legacy of greater collaboration between different organizations. A new OPP detachment board that will help oversee local policing will also be formed once the plan is in place. Members discussed the jurisdictional hurdles, such as neighbouring detachments in Bancroft and Huntsville that also operate in Haliburton. They also discussed the lower-tier townships shifting responsibility onto the County for a unified plan. Warden Liz Danielsen said the County should have a role and the question of the plan’s financing will have to be addressed. “We all have the same goal, that being the health and safety of all our residents,” Danielsen said. “I’m hoping this is a really solid collaborative effort.” The committee also debated whether to include an open public consultation in the process. Chair Carol Moffatt expressed concern with the unfocused feedback it might create. But StrategyCorp principal John Matheson said public consultation has proven valuable elsewhere, using guided specific questions, such as what makes people feel safe or unsafe. He noted how ethnicity could vary responses. “Very valuable for the report to be able to say, while the fact everybody knows everybody makes some people feel really safe, it actually makes some people feel like they’re not allowed to go there,” Matheson said. “That was maybe something that they needed to hear. “Almost nobody said stuff along the lines of structurally, we don’t trust our police force,” he further said, adding the feedback was distinct from stories of policing in the United States. “It gave us a much more nuanced, made-in-Ontario version of what the diversity issues are.” Committee members ultimately agreed on a public consultation, with StrategyCorp proposing one meeting in each of the four townships. StrategyCorp said the next steps would include the steering committee identifying contacts for an advisory table. The consultant will also develop a detailed work plan and stakeholder engagement plan. Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander

  • Canada's Ontario grapples with third wave, blame piled on its premier

    Canada's Ontario grapples with third wave, blame piled on its premier

    Ontario Premier Doug Ford, facing backlash over his government's handling of the pandemic, resisted calls to resign on Thursday as Canada's most populous province grappled with a third wave of COVID-19 infections that critics said could have been prevented. Ontario had 3,682 new infections on Thursday and 40 deaths, the highest of any province. Some 46% of Ontario residents have a negative view of Ford, up nine percentage points from a week earlier, according to an Abacus Data poll on Wednesday.