Nearly 100,000 Winnipeggers vaccinated

There’ve been 2,186 Winnipeggers vaccinated today by noon, bringing the cumulative total to 96,422 individuals having been vaccinated since the start of the campaign.

Five of the 12 clinics that are open today only have the vaccine that is most recommended for pregnant women (vaccine without adjuvant) available for the rest of the day: Assiniboine South, River East, Seven Oaks, Inkster, and Point Douglas, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority reports.

The remaining seven clinics still have both vaccine with and without adjuvant available.

The vaccine with adjuvant remains available to the following priority groups:

-Children aged six months to under five years old

-Anyone of Aboriginal ancestry

-Disadvantaged individuals (for example, the homeless)

-People living in remote or isolated areas

-People under 65 with a chronic medical condition or other risks including severe obesity, substance abuse or alcoholism

-Anyone of any age with a weakened immune system or those who live with or care for them

-Those who live with or care for infants under six months old

-Single parents or anyone solely responsible for a dependent

-Health-care workers and medical first responders

-Pregnant women

The WRHA also reports that the Children’s Hospital Emergency Department is currently experiencing extremely high volumes with more than half the patients presenting have influenza-like illness (not just H1N1, but other respiratory illnesses that children contract). The department is asking the public’s patience as they may experience longer than usual wait times.

The emergency department is also asking the public to limit the number of people staying with a patient in the department to one or two individuals to help ease the situation. Everyone who does go to Children’s Emergency is being offered a mask, either to protect themselves from possible infection or to protect others from contracting an infection from them.

Finally, the hospital is asking the public to restrict unnecessary visits to admitted patients.

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CKNW leads radio numbers for Metro Vancouver

VANCOUVER – CBC Radio One’s Vancouver listenership in October dropped a full percentage point from the previous month, and first-place CKNW climbed 1.5 percentage points, according to the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement.

Using the PPM (portable people meter) system of measurement – listeners wear a device that captures signals, as opposed to listeners filling out diaries – CKNW had a 13.1 share of hours tuned among listeners aged 12 and older in the four weeks after Sept. 28, up from 11.6 in September. CBC Radio One fell from 9.6 to 8.6, putting it in a second-place tie with QM-FM, which was up .2 per cent from September.

In the much-coveted 25-54 age group, CFOX (99.3 The Fox) had the largest share of males at 12.6 per cent, while QM FM captured the female market, with 14.6 per cent. For that age group, CKNW was second for male listeners at 10 per cent, with CBC Radio One sitting eighth at 5.8, and for females ‘NW ranked 10th (4.3), with CBC Radio One fifth (6.5).

For CKNW, the numbers re-establish the talk radio station at the leader in the market. Last spring, ‘NW trailed the CBC in two ratings period, when Radio One reached as high as 12.4 per cent. The fall rating show the CBC has fallen dramatically from its spring numbers.

The new PPM system of measurement, now in place in Canada, is seen by the industry as more accurate than the old diary system. The previous system required listeners to keep diaries of their radio hours, and was subject to memory lapses and what Toronto radio analyst David Bray calls "aspirational reporting," meaning those surveyed may list stations they felt they should tune into.

With PPM, survey participants wear electronic devices which not only pick up the radio signals, but register the exact number of minutes they are on. However, this also has flaws, because signals in office elevators, doctors’ waiting rooms and shops are all logged, even if the listener didn’t choose those stations.

The October results were mixed for Vancouver’s two newly branded stations. Virgin Radio 95.3, which plays what’s termed "hot contemporary ‘ music, was tied for sixth overall with a 5.8 rating, but was second among 25-54 females (10.9) and fifth among males of that age (7.5). Newcomer SHORE 104, an "adult album alternative" station, rated second-to-last of the 18 stations overall, its 0.9 rating narrowly edging traffic station AM 730 (0.7).

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Toronto wins 2015 Pan Am Games

Toronto has won the 2015 Pan Am Games, on the first ballot.

The victory was announced at a city-run party on Toronto’s waterfront just after 4:30 p.m. "It’s amazing," said Deputy Premier George Smitherman. "A decisive first-ballot victory."

The announcement came after 42 delegates from the Pan American Sports Organization pondered the final presentations from Toronto and the other contenders – Bogota, Colombia, and Lima, Peru.

A total of 52 ballots were cast, since past host cities get to vote twice.

Bob Richardson, a senior advisor to the Toronto bid, said committee members were confident heading into Friday’s vote.

"You never know how these things are going to turn out. We feel that we’ve put our best foot forward and we’ve done all the things that we could do," he said.

The news must come as a relief for some in Toronto – a city that endured losing bids for the 1996 and 2008 Olympic Games and failed to get a campaign for an Expo fully off the ground.

With the win, the Toronto bid committee charged with securing the Games will be dissolved and a new committee in charge of staging the $1.4-billion event in 17 cities around the region will be struck.

The Games are also expected to create economic spinoffs – both in the 15,000 construction jobs that would be created to build Games infrastructure and from tourism generated from the anticipated 250,000 visitors.

However, not everyone is happy.

A coalition calling itself No Games Toronto argues the Games, and the para-Pan Am Games, will divert resources away from homelessness, tuition fees and social housing, and leave a legacy of crippling debt.

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Peel shuts H1N1 clinics due to vaccine shortage

Just as Toronto extends the operating hours of its H1N1 vaccination clinics, Peel is shutting down all clinics in the region for four days because of a vaccine shortage.

Peel Public Health announced Friday that clinics will be closed Sunday through Wednesday because “they do not have enough vaccine to operate.”

The vaccination centres are expected to reopen on Nov. 12, but with reduced hours, spokeswoman Janet Eagleson said. The shortage did not take officials by surprise, she said.

“It was expected based on the volumes that we had,” she said, noting the region was pushing hard to get as many people as possible immunized by the end of this week.

Almost 25,000 doses of the H1N1 vaccine have been injected in Peel clinics, Ms. Eagleson said. Health officials are encouraging people in priority groups, such as pregnant women and young children, to arrange for vaccination through their family doctors while the clinics are suspended.

Meanwhile, the 10 vaccination clinics in Toronto have started staying open later in the evenings and five will be open Sundays, starting this week. Those locations include Metro Hall, Timothy Eaton Business and Technical Institute, and the East York, North York and Etobicoke civic centres.

Susan Sperling at Toronto Public Health said the clinics have not experienced shortages, despite early reports of massive lineups and lengthy wait times, but nor are they boasting a surplus of the vaccine.

A spokesman with the Ontario health ministry said the province would not move vaccine from one municipality to another, but tens of thousands of extra doses are stockpiled and could be shipped out within hours in the event of an emergency.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, the Toronto health unit’s director of communicable disease control, said the goal of the city’s extended hours is to make it easier for people in priority groups to get the vaccination.

“Extending our hours and locations will also help us vaccinate everyone when more vaccine becomes available,” she said.

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Extensive review finds TransLink has “significant issues”

VICTORIA – TransLink is plagued by "significant operational issues" and has not done enough to manage its finances, B.C. comptroller-general Cheryl Wenezenki-Yolland wrote in a report released Friday.

"Inaction by TransLink and the Mayors’ Council to maintain a balance between expenses and revenues has brought TransLink to a point at which substantial operating deficits in 2010 and beyond will be difficult to avoid," wrote Wenezenki-Yolland.

She said TransLink should have taken "earlier actions" to contain its rising costs.

The report comes just two weeks after regional mayors voted down TransLink’s request for $450-million per year to pay for expanded services. Instead, they approved only $130 million, which they said at the time will keep the system on life support.

It also comes one day after TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast announced his resignation.

In her report, Wenezenki-Yolland also looked into B.C. Ferries. She found "operations to be well managed and reasonably effective," though did find executive compensation to be "significantly higher than that paid by several several larger public sector entities."

Wenezenki-Yolland called in her report for a joint Transportation Commission to oversee both TransLink and B.C. Ferries.

"A properly resourced, larger Transportation Commission with a broader mandate would be in a position to provide a stronger, more consistent regulatory approach to these vital transportation systems," she wrote.

The report recommends that the Mayors’ Council be converted into a transit authority with 20 per cent of the members appointed by the province.

It suggests the this board should be given responsibility for board appointments, setting board renumeration and overseeing the board while not assuming a management role.

"The Mayors’ Council/Authority will need to embrace their responsibility to provide a transit system that not only provides the highest quality of service but remains financially sustainable," the report said.

Meanwhile, the board and executives at B.C. Ferries get paid too much and it’s too easy for officials to earn bonuses, B.C.’s comptroller general says in the report.

The report said president David Hahn’s compensation last year was more than double that at larger public sector bodies. Executive bonuses also were easier to attain than auditors would have expected, the report said.

The board’s compensation is also “excessive,” with a retainer that is three to five times higher than permitted at B.C. Crown corporations, the report said.

The auditors’ concerns were compounded, they said, by the fact that the board decides its own pay scale, and approves executive salary without proper accountability.

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Prince Charles opens Toronto’s Royal Agricultural Winter Fair

TORONTO – Prince Charles officially opened Toronto’s Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Friday, before spending the rest of the morning rubbing elbows with crowds of unsuspecting fair goers, in some of his most intimate moments of his three-day visit to the Toronto area.

"Nothing could give me greater pleasure than to declare the 87th Royal Agricultural Winter Fair officially open," the prince said to a crowd of thousands at Ricoh Coliseum.

The fair is the world’s largest indoor agricultural show, showcasing Canada’s best farming products and technologies.

It attracts more than 150,000 visitors a year.

Gayle McPherson, fair association president, introduced Charles and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, before Charles was presented with a basket of Canadian honey and maple syrup. The Duchess was given a western-style horse saddle.

The royal couple then split up and wandered through the fair’s maze of displays and stables.

The prince surprised many as he strolled through a cattle barn, filled with Aberdeen Angus cattle, greeting a group from rural Ontario at the fair to participate in a pig exhibit.

Marilena Seroski and her daughter from the Hamilton area, turned to find themselves face to face with the Prince of Wales, as his entourage led him into a convention hall filled with agricultural exhibitions.

"I can’t wait until I get home and tell my family, because no one would believe I shook his hand," she said. It was an unexpected honour, she said, but the memory would last a lifetime.

"People of importance like that, you usually would be seeing them from far away. It was really something."

But the sight of royalty enthralled not everyone.

Trent, a young student from Our Lady of Peace Catholic School, slipped in behind the prince’s entourage after Charles had spent several minutes viewing a display of prized massive pumpkins.

"That’s the prizewinner right there," Trent marveled at a giant, 563.18 kilogram specimen, his back turned to the prince.

The royal couple were scheduled to leave for Victoria, B.C. early Friday afternoon.

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UN gang leader files complaint against RCMP over arrest

United Nations gang leader and convicted drug smuggler Clay Roueche has filed a complaint against the RCMP about the way in which he was arrested in May 2008.

Roueche filed the documents in Ottawa on Oct. 15 with the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, CPC spokesman Nelson Kalil confirmed Thursday.

Roueche is alleging his rights were violated when the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit-B.C. tipped American authorities that Roueche was traveling to Mexico for a wedding and a gang ceremony.

At the time, Roueche was wanted in the U.S. for conspiracy to import marijuana, export cocaine and money laundering, charges to which he pleaded guilty last April.

When Mexican authorities turned the UN crime boss away, he was sent back to Canada on a flight that landed in Texas, where he was arrested.

Roueche was also under investigation in Canada at the time of his U.S. arrest. Eight of his UN associates are now facing charges of conspiring to kill the Bacon brothers of Abbotsford. Roueche is named as an unindicted co-conspirator in that case.

Roueche is to be sentenced in Seattle in December on the drug smuggling and money laundering charges.

The U.S. Attorney is seeking 30 years behind bars for the Canadian, saying his drug gang was international, sophisticated and deadly.

Throughout his 18 months in U.S. custody, Roueche’s American lawyers never filed a complaint or a court submission about the circumstances of Roueche’s arrest.

Kalil said Roueche’s complaint was sent to the RCMP for investigation the day after it was received.

"If the RCMP decides it is vexatious or there is nothing to it, they’ll submit that in a report," Kalil explained.

CPC head Paul Kennedy will then review the RCMP report and decide if further investigation is necessary, Kalil said.

"It is going through the usual process."

The RCMP did not return phone calls on the Roueche complaint.

Emily Langlie, who speaks for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Seattle, said they wouldn’t be commenting.

"We have not seen the complaint, and it has no bearing on the prosecution here in the U.S. Our prosecution is the only thing we address via our court filings."

The Americans have said they don’t want Roueche to be able to take advantage of a prisoner offender treaty, meaning he would have to serve at least 80 per cent of whatever sentence he is handed Dec. 16 in a U.S. penitentiary.

Details of the information passed by B.C. police to the U.S. are contained in a March 3, 2009 affidavit by RCMP Staff Sgt. Mike Coyle and filed in the U.S. case.

Coyle said it was the head of the Canadian investigation, Insp. Andy Richards, who called the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to tell them Roueche was on his way south.

Richards has never been with the RCMP. He was a Vancouver police department member seconded to the CFSEU and is now an inspector with the Port Moody police department.

ICE had made Richards aware of "the outstanding U.S. warrant for Roueche’s arrest."

"ICE advised they would hold off its execution due to their national investigation on Roueche and CFSEU’s active criminal investigation," Coyle explained. "ICE expressed an interest in liaising with their Mexican partners, if the opportunity presented itself, to facilitate the arrest or Roueche."

But the escalating gang warfare in B.C. linked to Roueche’s gang made police feel more needed to be done, the court documents say.

"In May of 2008 the Vancouver area was experiencing a significant number of violent acts which included shootings and murders. Roueche and his associates were believed to be involved in some of these acts and/or had knowledge. It was felt there was an increased risk to the public’s safety due to the on-going violence," Coyle said.

"CFSEU was aware of Roueche’s planning air travel to Mexico on May 16/17, 2008 to attend a friends wedding. Insp. Richards contacted ICE, expressed his concern and explained that he would not have any objection if ICE decided to effect Roueche’s arrest. ICE made the determination to act on their outstanding warrant."

Roueche was aware that he could be arrested in the U.S.

In a wiretapped conversation in April 2008 he told girlfriend, Pamela Lee, that if he travelled to the U.S. he’d be in jail "for like 20 years."

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Cuts coming to Fraser Health

Tightening purse strings means Fraser Health will see another round of sweeping cuts.

In an attempt to balance the budget, Fraser Health CEO Nigel Murray announced Thursday the region will scale back some services to rein in a $10-million deficit.

The changes include reductions and closures involving acute care, hospice care, spiritual care and addiction and mental-health services.

“Fundamentally, these are the exact service cuts they said they wouldn’t cut before the election,” said NDP health critic Adrian Dix. “They are going to profoundly impact the level of care in Fraser Health.”

Abbotsford Regional Hospital will close the doors on its six-bed adolescent psychiatry unit, sending its patients to Surrey Memorial.

Chilliwack General Hospital’s 10-bed withdrawal unit will be axed, with addicts sent to Creekside withdrawal unit in Surrey instead.

The amalgamation will also see more focus put on home detox services, according to Murray.

“We’ll be making sure that those already in the program will have good transition strategies for them,” Murray said.

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A 25-bed convalescent care unit at New Westminster’s Queen’s Park Care Centre, which officials say is no longer needed, will be closed. An eight-bed hospice at the centre will also close in advance of a 10-bed unit opening in Delta.

The cuts will also see 5.5 full-time health unit aides (HUAs), who assist in mass immunization clinics, laid off to save $250,000 annually.

Murray said the change will not impact H1N1 immunization programs as HUAs can’t immunize patients and licensed practical nurses, who can, will be taking their place.

Other cutbacks include:

– Funding for 11 residential-care beds at Bear Creek Lodge, and another 11 at Newton Regency in Surrey.

– Eliminating funding for the Matrix Youth Addictions Program in Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows.

– Temporary closures of some ambulatory care outpatient clinics until March 31.

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Surrey RCMP officer found guilty of assault

METRO VANCOUVER – An RCMP officer found guilty of assault continues on active duty with the Surrey detachment, RCMP media relations officer Sgt. Rob Vermeulen said Thursday.

The convicted officer, Const. Frank Lambert, was found guilty in Chilliwack Provincial Court on Wednesday of assault relating to an incident while he was on duty, an RCMP news release said.

Vermeulen said in an interview Thursday that decisions are made on a case-by-case basis about whether to allow officers who are charged or convicted of offences to continue on active duty.

According to an RCMP news release, the incident occurred in July 2007, when Lambert and several other officers caught six men at the scene of a break and enter at a Surrey school.

The release said one of the suspects made a comment to another, but didn’t specify what was said. Lambert "was then observed by another RCMP officer utilizing excessive force in the management of a handcuffed prisoner by pushing him onto the hood of a police car several times. The prisoner was not injured."

The Surrey detachment launched internal and criminal investigations.

Lambert was charged with assault in January 2008. His sentencing is tentatively set for February 2010.

In the internal code of conduct investigation, the officer in charge of the Surrey detachment found in February 2008 that the allegations were "substantiated." Lambert, an officer for five years, faces formal discipline before an adjudication board.

Penalties could range from a reprimand to dismissal, Vermeulen said.

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Prince Charles lauds Canadian support for military

Prince Charles expressed his appreciation of Canada’s support for its military after presenting new colours to two Canadian regiments Thursday evening.

Thanking military families and the rest of Canada for their “compassion and loyalty,” he said he was moved by the acts of solidarity he has seen during his trip to Canada.

“I cannot tell you how moved my wife and I are that so many of you have chose to come here on this autumnal evening, or are watching this parade on television at home, or who line what has so poignantly become known as ‘The Highway of Heroes’ to honour the fallen,” Charles said during a formal military ceremony Thursday night, in front of more than 5,000 people at Toronto University’s Varsity Stadium.

The prince presented new colours Thursday to the Royal Regiment of Canada and the Toronto Scottish Regiment, on the fourth day of his 11-day tour of Canada. Charles is the colonel-in-chief of both regiments.

The ceremony’s location, the downtown Varsity Stadium, has historical significance since it was the site of the 1965 Presentation of Colours to the Toronto Scottish Regiment by the late Queen Mother.

Well ahead of the prince’s arrival, both regiments marched onto Varsity field in full military uniform.

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Charles inspected the regiments with their commanding officers, Col. Blake Charles Goldring of the Royal Regiment of Canada and Lt.-Col. Justin Neil of the Toronto Scottish. He then officially presented the regiments’ new colours, blessed by a military chaplain.

The presentation of colours was the highlight of a busy day travelling Ontario, during which the royal couple was greeted by applause at Hamilton’s Dundurn Castle.

A cheering crowd of more than 400 greeted Charles and Camilla there as they visited the ancestral home of the Duchess of Cornwall.

Arriving by motorcade, they waved at the large crowd gathered outside the castle and shook hands with the mass of smiling supporters.

After about five minutes, the royal couple joined Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger and began their tour of Dundurn Castle.

Built between 1832 and 1835, the distinctive Regency-style chateau was constructed for Sir Allan Napier MacNab, Camilla’s great-great-great grandfather.

Sir Allan, born in Niagara, became prime minister of the United Province of Canada in 1854. He would be buried on the castle grounds in 1862.

While Camilla’s Canadian roots were the draw for many in attendance, some still fawned over the prince.

“I’m glad he is here, it is a real honour,” said John Fleming. “The more you know about him, the more you like him. And not too many people know much about him.”

This is the Camilla’s first visit to Canada, and Charles’ first since remarrying in 2005.

Later in the afternoon, the royal couple hid under overworked umbrellas as they visited HMCS Haida, a former military ship now sitting in Hamilton’s harbour as a museum.

More than 200 visitors, many in military garb, greeted the tour as rain and hail poured down. After fighting the wind on board Haida, Charles fired the ship’s guns, delighting the crowd.

He later unveiled a plaque to commemorate their visit, before leaving Hamilton to tour the Niagara College Teaching Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Today, Charles will officially open Toronto’s Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, before leaving the province for British Columbia.