Group urges province to open COVID-19 vaccine pre-registration to all Ontarians


A Toronto city councillor and a group of health-care professionals are calling on the province to open COVID-19 vaccine pre-registration to all Ontarians in a bid to improve the rollout of shots.

Coun. Josh Matlow and health-care professionals from the University Health Network and the University of Toronto, posted an open letter to Premier Doug Ford, Health Minister Christine Elliott, and the co-chairs of the COVID-19 science advisory table on Wednesday.

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“While the vaccine rollout offers an end in sight to the COVID-19 pandemic, too many Ontarians who have yet to be eligible for the current phase of the vaccination plan are left feeling anxious about when, and how they’ll learn that their turn will finally come,” the letter said.

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“That is why we recommend the province offer a specific category on their call-in and online booking systems that gives Ontarians an opportunity to pre-register for the vaccine.”

The letter said residents should be able to enter their date of birth, postal code, and contact information and get onto a registration list.

“Once eligible, Ontarians could receive an email and/or text message outlining the next steps on how to officially book their vaccine appointment and applicable location(s),” the letter said.

They said this could improve the management of vaccine supply, offer insight into vaccine hesitancy, and give residents the feeling of being closer to overcoming the pandemic.





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





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Ontarians push back against companies denying them access to ‘non-essential’ goods


Ontario residents are pushing back against big box and discount stores cutting off access to in-store items the province has deemed ‘non-essential’ as part of the the new COVID-19 stay-at-home measures.

They argue that many of those items are essential, especially for low-income households who can’t afford to buy supplies online or at pricier retailers.

“There are a lot of things people think are everyday essentials that are roped off and I think that’s a mistake that the government overlooked,” said Sarah Colero, a person whose income relies on the Ontario Disability Support Program.

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She claims the ODSP only provides her with just under $1,200 a month and she depends on stores like Dollarama to get her supplies.

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Colero claims Dollarama has closed off access to aisles with many supplies she needs and can’t afford to purchase elsewhere.

“Cleaning supplies, menstrual products, paper towels, tissues, tin foil,” she said. “I love Dollarama because everything there is a good price and that’s really what we need, because on ODSP, we have to budget so carefully.”

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Dollaramas across Toronto have signs outside stores listing items that the province had deemed ‘non-essential’ and it could no longer sell in-store, including supplies related to school, office, kitchen, hair accessories and closet and bathroom.

Dollarama also doesn’t allow for curbside pickup.

Ulisse Aiello is a caregiver to his brother with autism and said he desperately needs art supplies to keep his sibling occupied.

“He has the mentality of a five-year-old so you have to do a lot of things with him to keep him busy,” Aiello said.

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Aiello adds that, with their budget, he can only afford art supplies at places like Dollarama and Walmart.

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“It’s not fair that you’re closing down sections of a store that are absolutely essential to many people,” he said. 

Meanwhile, many others took to Twitter to criticize Walmart for closing off areas of their stores, including some who claimed they were denied access to child supplies and diapers.

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Dr. Andrew Boozary suggests the government should be more flexible when it comes to what is deemed ‘essential’ and ‘non-essential,’ especially to those in marginalized and low-incomes communities.

“It’s a really tough line to draw between what is essential and non-essential,” said Boozary.

“We just have to listen to the community in things that they need, things that are essential through this stretch — because we really need to know that there’s that solidarity as to which kind of neighbourhoods are at risk and which neighbourhoods are going to have the least access to support and help.”

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In response to Global News’ request for a statement, Ontario’s ministry of health said the rules only allow big box and discount stores to sell certain items.

“These categories are limited to: grocery items, pet care supplies, household cleaning supplies, pharmaceutical items, health care items and personal care items,” said ministry of health spokesperson Alexandra Hilkene.

“Given the vast number of types of items that big box/discount retailers sell, the prescribed categories ensure that retailers have the flexibility needed to categorize all items sold,” she added.

“Should a big box/discount store wish to sell other items, they must comply with any applicable conditions that other retailers that sell those items comply with.”

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Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Ontario hospitals suspending non-emergency surgeries'







COVID-19: Ontario hospitals suspending non-emergency surgeries


COVID-19: Ontario hospitals suspending non-emergency surgeries

Meanwhile, a Dollarama spokesperson told Global News in a statement: “We are committed to maintaining this essential role while also adhering to evolving government orders in the face of a persistent virus.

“We moved quickly (Wednesday) following the announcement of new emergency measures effective (Thursday), and we sincerely thank all our customers for their patience and understanding in what continue to be extremely difficult circumstances for Canadians from all walks of life.”

“We thank our customers for their patience and understanding as we implement the new guidelines,” said Walmart Canada media relations representative, Adam Grachnik.

“In this case, diapers are permitted for sale in our stores.”





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





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Toronto restaurant discriminated against woman who uses mobility aids, tribunal rules – Toronto


TORONTO — A Toronto restaurant discriminated against a woman who uses mobility devices and “publicly humiliated” her by refusing to let her use its bathroom four years ago, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has ruled.

In a decision issued this week, the tribunal says Haily Butler-Henderson “experienced adverse treatment” when she was repeatedly refused access to a downstairs washroom at the Pentagram Bar and Grill on Aug. 19, 2016.

The tribunal says a server also physically blocked Butler-Henderson’s path and loudly proclaimed to other patrons that the then-23-year-old was accepting the risk and liability associated with going down the stairs.

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“Instead of asking the applicant if she needed any accommodation or assistance to use the facilities, the server made a spectacle of the applicant in front of its other patrons which was discriminatory,” adjudicator Romona Gananathan wrote.

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“She was eventually allowed to use the facilities but only with conditions.”

The tribunal ordered Pentagram, which did not participate in the proceedings, to pay Butler-Henderson $10,000 in compensation for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect.

The restaurant’s current management and staff must also undergo training on their obligations under the Human Rights Code of Ontario, and post signs related to those responsibilities on the premises.

Butler-Henderson welcomed the ruling on social media, saying it “sets a huge precedent for disabled people in the future.”

Her lawyer, Lorin MacDonald, said the ruling will “serve restaurateurs to take notice.”

“While it was distressing to have the restaurant owners completely ignore the human rights application and to wait so long for validation of the discrimination, the decision is important for two reasons: it is now a matter of public record, and it initiated and continues a worldwide discussion around the broader issue of access to public restrooms,” MacDonald said in a statement.

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In her complaint, Butler-Henderson, who has spina bifida and uses forearm crutches as a mobility aid, said the incident took place as she was waiting for friends at a nearby coffee shop.

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Lineups for the washroom there were too long so she went down the block to Pentagram and asked for permission to use the facilities, she said.

Butler-Henderson said the server specifically cited her use of crutches as a reason to deny her access to the washroom, stressing the restaurant would be held liable if she were to fall.

At one point, she said, the server physically barred her from going down the stairs. Eventually, staff relented and allowed her to use the washroom, but Butler-Henderson said the incident was humiliating and infringed on a basic human right.

The human rights complaint argues people with disabilities have the right to assume a certain amount of risk for themselves.

Butler-Henderson said it was not the server’s place to assess her ability to navigate the stairwell on the basis that she has a disability and relies on a mobility aid.




© 2020 The Canadian Press





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