It’s Nour here with the news. How many of your American friends have messaged you in the last 24 hours about how they’re going to run away to Canada? If you have a particularly interesting marriage proposal feel free to send it to me on Twitter @nour_regrets. For now, let’s take some time away from across the border to find out what’s going on in this country.
Today we have: Ontario lifting pandemic restrictions because why the heck not; an incredibly weird homeless shelter that literally no one asked for; Manitoba politicians not heeding front-line workers call for help; a whole bunch of legislation that passed in the United States last night.
Yesterday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford gleefully announced his new plan to address COVID-19, in which the different levels of lockdown are delightfully colour-coded. The province’s sagacious leader walked the press through his plan to balance cautiousness with a peppy “Open for Business” attitude — an approach that has been working just great everywhere it’s been implemented so far.
In a staggering show of absurdity, Ford announced that pandemic restrictions will ease in Peel, York and Ottawa on November 7, and then in Toronto on November 14. Essentially, the plan is to let the places the pandemic has hit the worst just go buckwild, and see what happens.
The “easing of restrictions” means that indoor dining, gyms and theatres can all reopen with some caveats. Strip clubs will remain closed; no alcohol is to be served after 9 p.m.; all establishments need to close by 10 p.m. In fitness centres, people need to keep a three metre distance. For restaurants and bars, indoor capacity will be limited to 50 people, and four people are allowed to sit together.
These adjustments were announced the same day the province recorded 1,050 new daily cases, the most since the pandemic began. Perhaps the more than 3,100 deaths the province has seen doesn’t satisfy Ford enough?
- The City of Toronto has unveiled their first new shelter as part of their winter services plan to help people experiencing homelessness. Mortifyingly called the “Better Living Centre,” this Exhibition Place construction consists of sorry excuses for “beds” separated by glass partitions and surrounded by cameras, to ensure that residents get zero privacy.
- According to Lorraine Lam, an advocate for the homeless, city workers are moving people experiencing homelessness from their encampments over to the shelter. Upon arrival, they’re forced to take showers outdoors in an RV without hot water. Lights in the shelter are automatically turned on at 7 a.m. and off at 11 p.m.
- Context: For reference, estimates show that there were about 66,000 vacant homes in Toronto last August. Shoddy excuses for shelters like these are unnecessary — people experiencing homelessness shouldn’t be subjected to such poor conditions.
- Manitoba health minister Cameron Frisen has accused more than 350 provincial doctors and researchers that penned an open letter to him and Premier Brian Pallister of “causing chaos.”
- Frisen called into question the “motivations” of the provinces’ health workers after more than 200 penned an open letter calling for stronger actions against the pandemic and highlighted the necessity of further emergency funding. The letter calls for stronger actions against the pandemic, highlights the necessity of further emergency funding and claims that predictive modelling shows that the province is in “grave peril”.
- In Manitoba, existing ICU beds are full, and the province now has the highest number of cases per capita in the country. Cases have exploded since fall began.
- Context: This letter is the second that provincial health workers have addressed to the leaders. The first was sent on October 30, and doctors expressed concerns about the rising number of cases and called for the sort of mass closures seen during the spring.
- More Context: In Manitoba, most gatherings are limited to five people. However, faith gatherings can operate at 15 per cent capacity, while fitness centres are allowed to operate at 25 per cent capacity.
ICYMI: Good News And Bad News In American Legislation
Ignoring the elephant in the room, quite a lot of legislation was rolled out last night for our buddies south of the border. There’s good news and horrible news, so I’ll rip the bandaid off first.
California passed the controversial Prop 22, which exempts gig-economy services like DoorDash, Postmates, Uber and Lyft from classifying their workers as employees. They now have the blessing to continue categorizing them as independent contractors, which means they enjoy few labour rights.
The passing of this proposition follows a massive propaganda campaign carried out by the tech giants, the likes of which probably hasn’t been seen before.
Not all is so gloomy in the golden state, though. Californian voters also passed Prop 17, which enables those convicted of felonies but on parole to vote in elections. This restores the right to vote to about 50,000 parolees.
Different states across the country also made gains with drug legislation, explicating that the way people view drugs and the laws around them is changing.
Oregon became the first state in the country to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of drugs with Measure 110, reclassifying it as a civil violation. Those ticketed will now either have to pay a $100 fine, or participate in a health assessment.
Oregon voters also chose to fully legalize psilocybin for supervised therapeutic uses. In Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota, weed was legalized for recreational purposes. Mississippi and South Dakota legalized weed only for medical purposes. Looks like drugs are winning the war on drugs.
That’s all for today. Have fun fixating on the mess transpiring to the south of our border.
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