Ontario's watchdog reveal investigation into Hamilton police officer for alleged sex assaults

The province’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) says it’s started a probe into alleged legacy sexual assaults believed to have been committed by a member of the Hamilton Police Service.

In a release on Wednesday, SIU director Joseph Martino said the investigation was launched after receiving legal notification in mid-May suggesting the assaults happened in 2010.

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“As a result of the SIU investigation, Const. Michael LaCombe is charged with two counts of sexual assault contrary to section 271 of the Criminal Code,” Martino said in a statement.

LaCombe is set to appear before an Ontario court justice in Hamilton on Nov. 9.

No further details are being disclosed “in consideration of the fair trial interests of the accused,” Martino said.

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

Quebec plans to end pandemic state of emergency in 2022, but some measures could remain longer

After 20 long months, the worst of the pandemic is finally behind us according to Premier François Legault. He opened a new session of the National Assembly on Tuesday afternoon and laid out his government's priorities and made promises ahead of the 2022 election. Global’s Raquel Fletcher reports.

Premier François Legault says that while the province plans to lift the pandemic state of emergency after younger children have been vaccinated, some health measures may stick around longer.

Legault told reporters in Quebec City Wednesday the state of emergency has given the province flexibility to introduce measures such as masking rules and a website to recruit health-care help. He said the province would look at measures one-by-one and introduce a bill to maintain those that are needed.

“We have to see what we have the right to do and then what we need to do once the children between the ages of five and 11 are going to be vaccinated,” Legault said.

“We think that, for the most part, we will be able to remove most of the measures, but it is possible that some should be kept.”

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Legault had been vague about when the health emergency might end, but said Tuesday it could come in early 2022, depending on how quickly vaccination begins for younger children.

The state of emergency grants the government broad powers that include issuing non-tendered contracts, closing places of assembly, limiting travel and other measures deemed necessary to protect the population.

Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade said the state of emergency is not needed if vaccination of younger children is the only remaining hurdle.

“There is no visibility, he can do basically whatever he wants without having to justify himself,” Anglade said of the exceptional powers Legault has under a state of emergency. “That’s what’s going on right now, and I don’t think it’s necessary to maintain it that way.” On Twitter, she described the premier as “authoritarian.”

Health Minister Christian Dubé said the end of the health emergency does not mean the end of restrictions. “With public health, we will continue to communicate our measures. It’s very encouraging, a sign that the crisis, the worst of the crisis is behind us,” he said.

Quebec reported 458 new COVID-19 cases and two more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus on Wednesday.

The Health Department reported 287 people hospitalized with the virus, 10 fewer than the day before, and 72 of those patients are in intensive care, a decline of three.

According to the province’s public health institute, 90.2 per cent of those aged 12 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine, with 87.2 per cent considered adequately vaccinated against COVID-19.

The province has reported more than 420,000 infections and 11,455 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

COVID-19: London, Ont. researchers to study impact on brain of 'moral injury' in health-care workers

Researchers out of Lawson Health Research Institute and Western University’ Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry will be examining the impacts of what’s known as “moral injury” on the brains of health-care workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A moral injury involves injury to a person’s moral conscience and can happen when someone sees or does something, or fails to prevent something, that conflicts with their morals. As a result, people are often left with profound guilt and shame.

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Researchers argue that some health-care workers have experienced situations amid the pandemic that could have resulted in moral injury.

“Those suffering from moral injury have a cognitive or thinking component which may include repeated thoughts that they didn’t provide the best care for, example, or that they let their family down do to their intense work schedule or need to self-isolate,” explains Dr. Ruth Lanius, associate scientist at Lawson, Schulich professor and London Health Sciences Centre psychiatrist.

“We are trying to look closely at what happens in the brain when a person recalls a moral injury event. By understanding the changes happening in the brain, we may be better able to treat individuals suffering from moral injury.”

The study involving health-care workers will involve 60 participants who will undergo a functional MRI scan at the beginning of the study. The participants will have the option to receive eight weeks of treatment followed by another MRI scan to see if and how the brain changes.

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Lanius adds that the MRIs can be “very validating” for health-care workers, as they can “make the invisible wound of moral injury visible.”

The team aims to better understand what networks of the brain are activated with moral injury in hopes of improving treatment.

The study is still seeking participants and interested health-care workers are asked to contact research co-ordinator Suzy Southwell at 519-685-8500 ext. 35186 or suzy.southwell@lhsc.on.ca.

This is not Lawson’s first foray into the field of moral injury. In January 2020, Lawson announced a two-year study into moral injury among veterans.

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

Doctors sound alarm over COVID-19 vaccine exemptions: 'We have ethics'

WATCH: Doug Ford satisfied with CPSO process restricting Ontario doctors.

Dr. Nili Kaplan-Myrth has spent countless hours trying to convince hesitant patients to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Ottawa-based family doctor told Global News she’s encountered patients who don’t want to get vaccinated because they’re scared. Some have asked for an exemption – but that’s something Kaplan-Myrth won’t do.

“A patient asked if they could be exempted, and there was no medical reason; they just didn’t feel comfortable having the vaccine,” she said.

“I said, ‘No that is not a valid reason to be exempted.’ … it’s very restricted who can be exempted – in fact it’s so exceedingly rare that you have to wonder how any of the people who are getting these exemptions are given the exemption.”

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Two Ontario doctors barred from issuing medical exemptions for COVID vaccine, masks, testing

Kaplan-Myrth is one of several health-care professionals expressing shock after the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario barred two doctors last week from providing COVID-19 vaccine, mask and testing exemptions.

As well, a third Ontario doctor also had their exemption abilities restricted late last month.

The provincial regulator issued the interim orders under provisions of the Regulated Health Professions Act, which allows them to impose restrictions on a member’s licence if it believes their conduct “exposes or is likely to expose patients to harm or injury.”

A spokesperson for the college told Global News it expects physicians to provide exemptions based on valid medical reasons.

“Deliberately providing patients with exemption documentation that does not meet Ministry criteria or providing exemptions to circumvent vaccination mandates could constitute serious misconduct,” they said.

“We take these matters very seriously and, wherever we become aware of allegations, we would take all appropriate steps to investigate.”

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In light of this, Global News contacted every province and territory’s medical regulator to see if any other region has received complaints regarding doctors providing exemptions.

Global News received replies from every jurisdiction with the exception of Prince Edward Island and the Northwest Territories. Some regions couldn’t provide the information, either citing privacy laws or that the information wasn’t available.

Regulators in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, Yukon and British Columbia haven’t received any formal complaints.

However, in B.C., regulators there told Global News that it has heard through “informal avenues that illegitimate COVID-19 vaccine exemption and deferral letters may be circulating in the community.”

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC said it hasn’t seen any evidence of those letters, but published a public service announcement for those who may be required to determine the legitimacy of a vaccine exemption letter.

“If people are writing exemptions … they’re writing those exemptions either because they feel like they have to appease their patients, or they haven’t learned how to say no to their patients,” Kaplan-Myrth said.

“But we have to say no to patients all the time.”

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Number of COVID-19 vaccine exemptions being given out seems ‘high,’ Ontario medical officer says

Earlier this month, Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said the number of vaccine exemptions being given out in the province seems “high.”

He said there are two main reasons for a medical exemption: a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine ingredient, and a risk of inflammation to the heart caused by the shot.

When those two risks are considered, there should be an exemption rate of approximately one to five per 100,000, Moore said.

“We’ve tried to educate physicians, nurse practitioners who fill out these forms to ensure that they are aware of the two major medical exemptions for these vaccines,” he said.

“I’ve heard, let’s say through hockey leagues and/or through employers, of a one to two per cent medical exemption rate. To me, that does seem high and we have to have physicians and nurse practitioners better aware of what the true medical exemptions are.”

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Kaplan-Myrth added that misinformation is driving fears among the hesitant.

“It’s really hard to get a person past that extreme fear, but still that is not a reason that you give them an exemption,” she said.

Dr. David Esho, a family doctor in Toronto, told Global News he has been able to convince some patients to get vaccinated, but that it’s a work-in-progress for others.

“I think some of them don’t really understand what the criteria are, and that’s where my job as a physician is to educate them around what are the actual reasons for vaccine exemptions or mask exemptions,” he said.

“I think it’s important that as family physicians, as physicians in general, that we always practice with the best evidence-based medicine.”

Dr. Steven Bellemare, director of strategic engagement and advocacy with the Canadian Medical Protective Association, told Global News doctors need to use “clinical judgment” when assessing their patients’ needs.

“It really is important that physicians understand that they have to follow their college’s guidelines,” he said. “And if they are going to be providing exemptions, they do it in the context of proper clinical assessment and an established doctor-patient relationship.”

When asked about complaints regarding illegitimate exemptions being given, a spokesperson for the Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada told Global News that medical regulatory authorities (MRA) must follow due process “and, by legislation, cannot make public comments while these processes are unfolding.”

“There may in fact be several cases across the country where physicians have been brought to the attention of the MRA for the concern you outline, but due process must be allowed to unfold as it should.”

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For Kaplan-Myrth, she hopes that other physicians continue to be there for their patients.

“My message to any colleague who is doing the public a disservice by providing falsified exemptions is that they have no business practicing medicine,” she said.

“We have standards, we have ethics, we have codes of conduct and we have a responsibility to ensure the health and safety of our population.”

— With files from Ryan Rocca and The Canadian Press

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

Hamilton teens charged after police cruiser hit in alleged Niagara Falls joy-ride

Four teens from Hamilton were arrested and charged for an alleged joy-ride in Niagara Falls late Tuesday night after a stolen SUV smashed into a police cruiser.

Investigators say the vehicle was spotted by and then boxed in by police near Victoria Avenue near Morrison Street following a report about the missing Ford Explorer.

“The driver attempted to flee and rammed a cruiser,” Niagara Regional Police said in a release on Wednesday.

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“In a further attempt to flee the driver also mounted a curb and knocked over a cement garbage can.”

Two 17-year-old boys, a 16-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl were arrested and charged.

All face a charge for the theft of the SUV while the 16-year-old is facing additional charges of dangerous driving and failing to comply with a probation order.

Detectives say there were no serious injuries and that damage to a pair of vehicles is estimated at around $5,000.


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

'Can't believe I fell for this': Innisfil man duped by campervan scam, out $9K

WATCH: 'Global News Morning' speaks to the Better Business Bureau to learn ways you can avoid getting scammed while back-to-school shopping online.

An Innisfil, Ont., man thought he and his wife had bought a campervan after he responded to an online advertisement, but he’s since discovered that they’re out $9,000.

In August, Frank Piller, 64, and his wife thought they’d rekindle their interest in camping, so they started searching for campervans online.

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That was when Piller saw an ad for a 1995 Winnebago Rialta, which appeared to be exactly what he and his wife wanted.

“I answered that ad, and I didn’t get an answer back close to a week, a week-and-a-half (later),” he told Global News.

“The deal on this thing was that the person who owned it was trying to dispose of it after her father passed. It was actually her father’s, and she was a nurse, and she was actually working in B.C. but was from the Ottawa area.”

Piller said he was told that the campervan was being stored and handled by a third-party company called LanerHaines Corporation. He said he was told he needed to pay $9,000 upfront and that the campervan would be shipped to him and his wife with a 10-day test period and a money-back guarantee if they didn’t want it after that period.

“I knew stuff like that existed — there’s other companies advertising the same thing, so I really didn’t think too much of it,” he said.

After he received the invoice from LanerHaines, Piller said he checked the company out on the internet and he thought it looked legitimate. (The website appears to no longer be accessible).

On the website and the invoice, Piller said it indicated that patrons could pay by credit card, e-transfer or money wire.

Piller tried to pay via credit card, but it wouldn’t accept the company’s credentials. The e-transfer also didn’t work.

“I emailed them back, saying, ‘Look, I can’t seem to pay you’ — my bank doesn’t recognize you guys,'” he said. “They emailed me back, saying, ‘It’s probably because we just relocated our corporate finance division to England, so perhaps you can do it at the bank through the wire.'”

Piller went to the bank and sent the wire to LanerHaines.

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“Nothing happened for four days, so I reached out to them, and to the owner’s email, that address was gone,” he said.

“LanerHaines never did answer anything, so I don’t know what the story is on that, but long story short, I’m out $9,000”

According to the Better Business Bureau, online purchase scams rose to 38.3 per cent in 2020 from 24.3 per cent in 2019. The organization said the COVID-19 pandemic forced consumers and businesses to social distance, increasing buying and selling online.

“It was a sucker punch to the gut basically,” Piller said. “It’s not a ton of money in the grand scheme of things, but it came out of my credit line, and it basically eliminated our savings account.”

The 64-year-old said he thought he had done his due diligence by researching LanerHaines online.

“In retrospect and thinking back, all the alarm bells were there,” he said. “I guess I just refused to see them.”

Piller said he notified his bank’s fraud division, though he hasn’t heard anything back. He also notified the Better Business Bureau and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

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

Arsonists target residential parking lots in Victoria neighbourhood

Several multi-unit residential buildings in Victoria were damaged by suspicious fires this week, all of which targeted their parking lots.

No one was injured in the series of fires, which took place in the James Bay neighbourhood between 3 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Tuesday, police said.

Victoria police are still investigating and have not indicated whether the fires are connected.

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The first fire, determined to be arson, took place just before 3 a.m. in “underbuilding parking area” of a building in the 800 block of Academy Close, police said in a Wednesday news release.

Firefighters were putting out the flames when officers arrived, but the fire damaged two vehicles and the exterior walls and floor of the residential suite above.

At the same time, the release said officers were called to a small fire at a multi-unit residential building parking lot in the 900 block of Humboldt Street. That “deliberately set” fire failed to fully ignite.

A third fire was set shortly before 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday under a canopy in the parking area of a building in the 100 block of Douglas Street. That fire damaged the exterior walls, police said.

A fourth “deliberately set” fire was reported just after 1 p.m. at a second multi-unit residential building in the same block, but it failed to fully ignite.

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Victoria police are asking anyone with information about the incidents, including witnesses or anyone with with dashcam or surveillance footage, to contact them.

The non-emergency line can be reached at 250-995-7654. Crime Stoppers can be reached at 1-800-222-8477.

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

Suspect in downtown Calgary machete attacks found fit to stand trial

A Calgary man charged following two downtown machete attacks has been found fit to stand trial.

Conner Dery, who is 25, is charged with aggravated assault and carrying a concealed weapon in the attacks last week at a light-rail transit platform and a nearby bus shelter.

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Police say the attacks appeared to be random and two people were sent to hospital.

Police have confirmed that Dery is the son of a Calgary Police Service officer who recognized his son on CCTV footage and notified investigators.

Dery was in court Wednesday and a psychiatrist found that, despite having suffered a brain injury when he was 12, Dery is able to stand trial.

An Edmonton prosecutor has been appointed to handle the case, which is to be back in court Oct. 26.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

COVID-19: Nova Scotia reports lowest number of new cases in more than a month

An outbreak management team is working with Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville to try and prevent further spread of the virus. Nova Scotia Public Health officials believe the outbreak is limited so far and they’re hoping it stays that way. Alexa MacLean has more.

Nova Scotia reported six new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, the lowest number of single-day cases since Sept. 15.

Three of the new cases are in the Central Zone, two are in the Western Zone and one case is in the Northern Zone.

The province continues to say there is community spread in the Central Zone, “primarily among people aged 20 to 40 who are unvaccinated and participating in social activities.”

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With 27 new recoveries, the number of active cases is now 165, which includes 16 people in hospital. Five are in ICU.

Nova Scotia Health labs completed 3,121 tests on Tuesday.

A fourth patient in a non-COVID-19 unit at the Valley Regional Hospital has tested positive for COVID-19. The province declared a small outbreak at the hospital on Tuesday after three patients tested positive.

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“Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) continues to test patients, staff and doctors identified as close contacts,” Wednesday’s release said. “As a precaution, NSHA has made testing available for staff and doctors on site who want to get tested.”

The release also said one more school was notified of a COVID-19 exposure. A full list of schools with exposures can be found here.

According to the provincial COVID-19 dashboard, 82.6 per cent of Nova Scotians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 77.2 per cent are fully vaccinated.

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

OPP looking for trucker after $300,000 load disappears near Guelph

Wellington County OPP say they are looking for a trucker after a $300,000 load disappeared earlier this month.

Officers were called to a business on Speedvale Avenue just outside of Guelph last week for reports of the theft.

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In a news release on Wednesday, OPP said a truck driver using a fraudulent company and a stolen trailer showed up to the yard on Oct. 5 and loaded 11 Skyjack lifts and 25 red vinyl rolls.

The load was to be delivered to two separate locations in the United States but the items never arrived, police said.

Polcie say the fraudulent company name was listed under T.T. Transport out of Quebec and the stolen trailer had Elite Logix written on the side.

A photo of the driver and the truck has been released with the hopes of helping the investigation.

OPP are asking anyone with information to call investigators at 1-888-310-1122. Anonymous tips can be left with Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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

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