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Boy, 5, dies in hospital after mobile home fires in Red Deer County

A five-year-old boy has died in hospital after three mobile homes went up in flames in Red Deer County late last month.

A man, woman and two boys were taken to hospital after the fires at Les’s Trailer Park on Feb. 28. A seven-year-old girl was found dead at the scene when the fires were extinguished, RCMP said at the time.

On Tuesday morning, Blackfalds RCMP said a five-year-old boy who was taken to hospital following the fires died in hospital last Friday.

Cpl. Ronald Bumbry with RCMP media relations said one woman who was taken to hospital at the time remained in hospital Tuesday. Everyone else who was taken to hospital has since been released, Bumbry said Tuesday.

Fire crews were called to the trailer park at around 2 a.m. Friday, Feb. 28.

Three mobile homes were on fire, one of which was destroyed. All five people were in the same mobile home, RCMP said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the RCMP and Red Deer County Fire Services.


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Business

McDonald's hourly workers in U.S. demand paid sick leave as virus spreads

(Reuters) – Hourly wage workers at McDonald’s Corp (MCD.N) on Tuesday sought paid sick leave for those working at its U.S. restaurants and an update to the safety protocols as coronavirus cases in the United States rise.

The burger chain has not trained or given any guidelines on the epidemic, McDonald’s cooks and cashiers associated with labor group Fight for $15 and a Union said in an email statement here

Maurilia Arellanes, a McDonald’s worker in California, said on a media call organized by the labor group that she cannot afford to take a day off if she is sick.

“McDonald’s needs to step up and do everything it can to make sure workers like me are safe and that if we do get sick, we can take time off to get better without falling behind on our bills,” she said.

The labor group asked the company to pay workers for any missed shifts if a McDonald’s restaurant shuts down due to the spread of COVID-19.

McDonald’s hourly worker wage varies from $7.25 to $15 based on the state. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Restaurant workers have for long complained about poor pay and working conditions, drawing support from politicians and Fight for $15, which has regularly targeted McDonald’s calling for higher pay and union rights for workers.

Their demands come close on the heels of Darden Restaurants (DRI.N), the owner of Olive Garden and Bahama Breeze chains, saying it would provide its hourly workers paid sick leaves starting Tuesday.

Over 600 cases and 26 deaths have been reported in the United States due to the coronavirus. However, McDonald’s has not issued an update on the potential financial impact on its home.

When the outbreak was first reported in China late last year and the company said in January it does not see a big financial hit as it only collected royalty fees from China.

It last week decided to cancel its biennial in-person worldwide convention, attended by operators from around the world and set to take place in a few weeks. It will now hold a digital convention.

“The company canceled a meeting of executives and franchisees, but it’s not making any plans for us frontline workers, who cannot afford to take a day off without pay if we get sick,” said Fran Marion, a McDonald’s worker in Kansas City, Missouri.

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Coronavirus strikes Great Ormond Street children’s hospital in London

An employee at one of the UK's largest childrens' hospitals has tested positive for coronavirus .

Great Ormond Street in central London says a health worker in its cardiology department has the virus.

The hospital has now cancelled some non-essential cardiac operations for the next two weeks.

"A healthcare professional who works in our cardiology department has tested positive for coronavirus (Covid-19)," the hospital said in a statement on Tuesday.

"We would like to reassure our families that anybody who came into close contact with this individual is being informed and will be offered advice.

"The majority of services are unaffected and all essential treatment is being carried out, and to ensure patient and staff safety the cardiology department will not be carrying out non-essential cardiac procedures including surgery and outpatients."

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Contact tracing is now underway to find out who has been in close contact with the infected person.

Everyone who has been in contact with the hospital worker is being informed and will be offered advice from health professionals.

A total of 373 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the UK so far, up from 319 on Monday, the Department of Health announced today.

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CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK

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Six people in Britain have now died after contracting the virus.

More than 113,000 people around the world have been diagnosed with coronavirus and the death toll recently passed 4,000.

The entirety of Italy has been placed under a nationwide lockdown after 463 people died, with officials hoping to stop the spread of the infectious disease.

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Winter storm to hit Interior highways

The first day of spring may be just around the corner, but the mountain passes in B.C.’s Interior are set to get a blast of winter weather Tuesday.

Environment Canada has issued snowfall warnings for the Coquihalla Highway between Hope and Merritt and the Trans-Canada from Eagle Pass to Rogers Pass.


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Antigonish RCMP charge 3 with impaired driving in separate weekend incidents

Antigonish RCMP were busy last weekend, as officers arrested three impaired drivers in an eight-hour period.

Antigonish RCMP said in a news release on Tuesday that the three separate incidents occurred between 4 p.m. on March 6 and shortly after midnight on March 7.

The first incident was on March 6 following a single-vehicle collision on Highway 7 in Lochaber. The 29-year-old driver from Caledonia was taken to hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

He was later arrested on suspicion of alcohol-impaired operation of a conveyance.

After supplying a blood sample, police say the driver is now facing charges of operating a conveyance with a blood-alcohol concentration over 80 milligrams and impaired operation of a conveyance.

Just before midnight on March 6, a 30-year-old driver from Ashdale in Antigonish County was also stopped by RCMP after allegedly failing to dim his headlights while passing oncoming traffic.

According to police, the driver was suspected of impaired driving and refused to do a roadside screening when asked. He had a female passenger in the car with him, and police allege she began to interfere.

Police said both occupants of the vehicle were arrested and spent the night at the Antigonish RCMP detachment.

The driver is now facing charges of impaired operation of a conveyance and refusal of a roadside screening device demand, while the passenger is facing one charge of obstruction. They are both set to appear in court on April 29.

The last incident was on March 7 just after midnight. Police say they responded to a report of a possible impaired driver leaving St. Francis Xavier University.

Police then arrested a 56-year-old man after officers allege he was sitting in the driver’s seat of a vehicle with open alcohol while the vehicle was running. The man was transferred to the Antigonish RCMP department, where police say he provided breath samples.

He is facing one count of impaired care and control of a conveyance and one count of care and control of a conveyance with a blood-alcohol concentration over 80 milligrams.

The driver was released and is scheduled to attend Antigonish provincial court on April 15.


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Former Winnipegger says ‘everyone’s suffering’ as Italy locks down over coronavirus fears

A former Winnipegger now living in northern Italy says she’s seeing the impact of the COVID-19 crisis first-hand.

Europe’s worst-affected country, Italy’s prime minister said Monday that the entire country will be placed in lockdown until next month as part of an unprecedented effort to fight the coronavirus.

Daniela di Biaggio, a teacher originally from Winnipeg now living in San Daniele, Italy, told 680 CJOB that the crisis is affecting everything from businesses to schools – which are currently shut down – to street traffic.

“You don’t see much traffic. You don’t see people around,” she said. “It’s deserted.

“It is scary… people are still going to the shop and have to get their food, but (the government) suggests you keep a metre distance, and you can see that there are more people at the tills. They don’t want people lining up close together.

“They’re trying to do things to prevent the spread of the virus. You find sanitary gel to clean your hands everywhere.”

Di Biaggio said her parents in Winnipeg have been calling every day with concerns as news of the Italian crisis worsens, but she said despite an excess of caution, she and her family and friends are relatively safe.

One of the biggest impacts, she said, is on her teenage daughter, who can’t go to school, can’t hang out with her friends, and is generally stuck in the house all day.

“She’s at home. She’s doing school online, and things have been cancelled. She understands that she has to stay at home. All sporting events have been cancelled, and we’re just trying to do our best with the situation.”

Italy‘s 60 million people will only be able to travel for work, medical reasons or emergencies until April 3. All schools and universities, which were originally closed nationwide last week until March 15, will now not reopen before next month.

Since late February, Italy has had over 9,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, as well as more than 460 deaths.

“Hopefully the flu will not be around much longer and we’ll be able to recover,” said di Biaggio.

“It’s a hard situation for everyone, and everyone’s suffering.”

Canada’s federal government has put out a travel advisory for Italy, encouraging Canadians to avoid any non-essential travel to the country due to COVID-19.

The northern region, where di Biaggio lives, is being specifically called out as a danger zone.

“In Italy widespread transmission is being reported in multiple regions in the north of the country. Confirmed cases that are linked to Italy are being reported in other countries, and more are expected,” the advisory says.

As of Monday, there were 79 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada, with one death – a man in his 80s at a British Columbia care home.

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Who is Dr. Deena Hinshaw? Alberta’s chief medical officer of health

She’s quickly become a trusted face for Albertans, calmly delivering the facts as cases of COVID-19 are confirmed in the province.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw is Alberta’s chief medical officer of health.

It’s the job of the office of the chief medical officer of health to provide public health expertise to support health surveillance, population health and disease control initiatives on issues of public health importance.

The chief medical officer of health is a member of the Alberta Health executive team who reports to the deputy health minister. In extraordinary situations — like a public health emergency — the chief medical officer of health may report directly to the health minister.

Hinshaw was appointed to the role on Jan. 28, 2019, after serving as Alberta Health’s deputy chief medical officer of health from 2017 to 2019.

Hinshaw completed her undergraduate degree at Augustana University College in Camrose, Alta. She did her medical degree, Masters in Public Health and residencies in family medicine and community medicine at the University of Alberta.

Hinshaw worked as a medical officer of health in the Central Zone of Alberta Health Services from January 2010 to July 2017. She also served as the medical officer of health lead in the area of public health surveillance and infrastructure for AHS from 2014 to 2017.

Hinshaw has held nearly daily media availabilities in Edmonton since Alberta’s first case of the new coronavirus was announced on March 5.


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Ticket fixing prosecutor gets house arrest as part of 3 month sentence, Ontario court rules

TORONTO – A regional prosecutor who illegally fixed traffic tickets to please her police officer boyfriend has been given a three-month conditional sentence for breach of trust and attempted obstruction of justice.

The sentence requires Caterina Petrolo, who was fired from York Region, to serve the first two months under house arrest.

“I am satisfied that a conditional sentence of imprisonment would be consistent with the fundamental purpose and principles of sentencing, and that the appropriate length of this conditional sentence is three months,” Ontario court Judge David Harris said. “Serving her sentence in the community, subject to appropriate conditions, would not endanger the safety of the community.”

Among other restrictions, Petrolo cannot leave the province without permission and must live at a home in Toronto.

The prosecution had sought a nine-month conditional sentence, while Petrolo’s lawyer called for a conditional discharge and probation.

Harris had convicted Petrolo, 37, in January over two cases in which friends of York Region police Const. Richard Senior escaped stiffer punishment for their driving offences.

Court documents show investigators came across Petrolo’s activities during a corruption investigation into Senior, with whom she had been in a romantic relationship.

In one case, Harris found Petrolo, working out of Richmond Hill, Ont., intervened on behalf of a man whose father was a longtime friend of Senior’s. The man had run up tickets for disobeying a street sign in nearby Markham and another in Toronto for failing to wear a seatbelt. Both charges were dropped.

Harris also convicted Petrolo in a second case involving a friend of Senior’s who was charged with careless driving but pleaded guilty to the far less serious offence of disobeying a lane light. The conviction, Harris said, was based on an intercepted conversation Petrolo had with Senior in which she told him she had “worked some magic” on the ticket.

In imposing sentence on the first-time offender, the judge said a conditional discharge or suspended sentence would be insufficient or contrary to the public interest.

Last month, a hearing tribunal of the Law Society of Ontario said it was looking to suspend or further restrict Petrolo’s paralegal licence in light of her convictions. She had been allowed since June to keep practising under supervision pending the outcome of her case.

Her “recent criminal convictions raise real concerns with respect to public confidence in the Law Society as an effective regulator and public confidence in the profession,” the tribunal said.

Senior was charged in 2018 with 30 criminal offences, including trafficking in cocaine, attempted armed robbery, obstructing justice and weapons charges. A Toronto officer and a second York Region officer were also charged in the probe.


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Business

Trump's coronavirus stimulus is still evolving. Here's what it should include, experts say

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said he will ask Congress for a payroll tax cut and other “very major” stimulus moves on Tuesday to ease the economic pain of the coronavirus, but the details remain unclear.

The goal, business groups and economists say, is to get more cash into the pockets of workers and companies quickly.

As administration officials head to Capitol Hill to discuss their plans with Senate Republicans, the method and recipients of any stimulus are still in flux.

The president favors a broad payroll tax cut but others inside the White House want a targeted response that benefits industries and areas hardest hit by the virus, advisers say.

The administration needs to act fast, as the country braces for a potentially massive downturn, economists and trade groups say.

“This isn’t a situation where we need to flood the economy. What we need to do is help anyone who’s adversely impacted navigate and get to the other side of this,” said Neil Bradley, chief policy officer for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

That includes income support for workers laid off and aid for the travel, tourism and other sectors impacted by the virus, Bradley said. The Chamber plans to make formal proposals to the administration later this week.

Small business owners, already squeezed by high debt, rising wages and Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods, are likely to be among the most affected if customers stay home.

“The way we think about it is, if you have a business that was an otherwise profitable ongoing concern that is impacted by this, you shouldn’t have to go out of business because of this temporary shock,” Bradley said. “Individuals that were otherwise employed should not have to go into default.”

Any move such as a payroll tax cut or rebate would likely need the approval of Congress and action may not be imminent, as lawmakers are scheduled for a recess next week.

On Monday, a spokesman for Senate Finance Committee Chuck Grassley, said the Republican senator was exploring various options for targeted tax relief.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday issued coronavirus spending priorities for Democrats, including paid sick leave for quarantined workers, enhancements to unemployment insurance, food stamps and other nutrition programs, and reimbursements for coronavirus medical treatments.

WHITE HOUSE CHANGE OF HEART

Until last week, the White House’s position was that the Federal Reserve and lawmakers would take the lead on the economic coronavirus response, an economist advising the White House said.

“Their strategy was to say, ‘We’re not going to drive this (fiscal response), Congress is going to drive this. The best thing we can do is drive up markets,’” the economist said. Now that it is clear that approach isn’t calming markets, the White House is thinking seriously about a fiscal response, he said.

Given that the market is pricing in some fiscal response, the White House needs more than a symbolic measure, some experts say.

“The White House is way behind the curve,” on what it needs to do to address the economic fallout, said Desmond Lachman, a fellow with the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank.

“A little loan here and a payroll (tax) cut there – they are thinking far too small. They should be thinking this is a global financial crisis,” he said.

A payroll tax cut or refund it is not likely to be enough on its own, said Nathan Sheets, chief economist at PGIM Fixed Income.

Employees pay 6.2% of their gross pay to the IRS, matched by employers. Giving them that back that isn’t enough to cover a mortgage payment, and regardless people will be reluctant to go out spend when they are afraid of infection.

Sheets, a former U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve official, added that there was a compelling case to help airlines, cruise companies and others hit by a sudden drop in demand, likening the situation to the bailout of General Motors Co (GM.N) and Chrysler (FCHA.MI) in 2009.

The travel industry is in much stronger shape than the Detroit automakers were at that time, so the aid would be less likely to draw the same accusations that the government was bailing out mismanaged companies, he said.

BlackRock Inc’s (BLK.N) investment research arm also called for a “go direct” approach, saying that a pre-emptive and coordinated policy response can keep an decade-old economic expansion alive.

“The key vulnerabilities that need to be addressed: cash challenges faced by companies, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises, and households,” the BlackRock Investment Institute said.

It called for generous government support to expand sick pay, adjustments to welfare and unemployment insurance programs to temporarily enhance benefits and, if necessary, direct payments to households.

For businesses, it called for tax deferrals to boost cash flow. Disaster relief mechanisms could be used to push cash to firms deeply affected, it said.

BlackRock’s recommendations are strikingly similar to IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath, who called on government policymakers to deliver “substantial” cash transfers, wage subsidies and tax relief.

Policy rate cuts would be less effective until business conditions normalize, she said in a blog post.

Some lobbying groups took the opportunity to argue for their pet projects. The Footwear Distrubutors and Retailers of America called on the White House to suspend import duties on shoes, which it says would lower consumer costs by $12 billion a year.

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UK probes purchase of London mansion by ex-Kazakh president's grandson

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) has asked a grandson of the former president of Kazakhstan to explain where he got the money from to buy a multi-million pound mansion in one of north London’s most expensive roads.

The house, in The Bishops Avenue, Hampstead, along with two other properties, is worth 80 million pounds ($104 million), the NCA says, and has an underground swimming pool and a cinema.

It is occupied by Nurali Aliyev, his wife Aida, and their children. Aliyev, 35, is the grandson of former Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev.

The NCA has barred any attempt to sell the properties and argues that the wealth used to buy them was linked to Rakhat Aliyev – Nurali Aliyev’s father and the former president’s son-in-law – who was found hanged in an Austrian jail in 2015 after being charged with the murder of two bankers in 2007.

This is only the second time so-called Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs) have been used in Britain since being introduced in 2018.

The NCA can use them to require owners to disclose how they managed to acquire assets. If they do not agree with the explanation, they can ask the courts to confiscate them.

In the High Court on Tuesday two offshore companies that own the properties applied to have the orders squashed.

Clare Montgomery, acting on the companies’ behalf, said the NCA’s grounds for the wealth order was “tissue paper thin”.

“The case presented … was tissue-paper thin on the claim that there was a link to Rakhat Aliyev,” she said.

Montgomery said the funding for the properties came from Nurali Aliyev’s mother, Dariga Nazarbayeva, who she said was economically independent.

In a statement issued later, the mother denied any wrongdoing.

“She has furnished the NCA with all the information it needed to conclude she has not been involved in any wrongdoing and there was no merit to their case,” her spokesperson said.

“Dr Nazarbayeva wishes to make it clear she has not been party to any wrongdoing and looks forward to the matter being concluded swiftly.”

Lawyers for Nurali Aliyev also issued a statement later saying he had tried to help the NCA’s inquiries.

“Nurali Aliyev has sought to assist the NCA by providing them with relevant information in relation to this case,” it said. “He is now challenging the NCA’s approach and will robustly defend the proceedings.”

Aliyev was appointed head of Kazakhstan’s top music channel in 2006 at the age of 21 and became a banker a year later, earning $26,000 a month for sitting on the board of the country’s seventh-largest bank, along with his mother.

The ex-president of oil-rich Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, has been widely criticized by opponents for giving his family members powerful posts in government, industry, construction and banking.

More than 5 billion pounds worth of property in the UK has been bought with suspicious wealth, which could come from corruption, according to Transparency International UK.

Britain’s first UWOs were issued against a Knightsbridge house and a golf course belonging to Jahangir Hajiyeva, jailed in Azerbaijan for embezzlement from the state bank, and his wife, Zamira, who spent 16.3 million pounds in the London department store Harrods.

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