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Toronto to open 3 new shelters to tackle winter demand – Toronto

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The city of Toronto says it has taken additional steps to shelter the city’s most vulnerable residents this winter after high demand and frigid weather put a significant strain on the system last year.

The city is opening three new, prefabricated 24-hour respite sites during the winter. One is located in the Liberty Village area in the parking lot of Lamport Stadium, another is on Fleet Street near Fort York and the third is on Lake Shore Boulevard East near Cherry Street.

The first site, at 1155 King St. W., is scheduled to open on Dec. 15, with the others opening on Jan. 31.


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In the meantime, the city said, a temporary 24-hour respite site with up to 200 spaces will open at Exhibition Place next week.

As of Nov. 15, there will be 600 winter respite spaces available, with a contingency plan to add additional capacity if required.

Paul Raftis, general manager of the city’s Shelter, Support and Housing Administration division, said at a press conference on Friday that this year’s plan is based on the lessons from last winter and recommendations from the city’s ombudsman.


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“Last year’s long stretch of extremely cold weather, coupled with rising demand for shelter, changed our team’s approach to planning for this winter, he said.

“We focused on providing additional shelter beds, additional 24-hour respites spaces, higher quality service and higher quality standards in respite spaces.”

There were 31 extreme cold weather alert days during the previous winter season, and the city added additional emergency shelter capacity, including temporarily opening up the Moss Park Armoury.

Ombudsman Susan Opler found in March that the city’s intake call centre and 311 staff relied on outdated information about locations and capacity of respite sites, and gave callers inaccurate information at least twice.

This year, the city said steps have been taken to improve communication, including adding additional staff to manage intake calls.

“There’s no question that there were operational and communication challenges within the shelter system,” Raftis said.


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There are about 7,000 beds in the shelter system in Toronto, and the number of people accessing city services is increasing.

Last month, there was an average of 6,694 people staying in emergency shelters per night, compared with an average of 5,270 the previous year, and 4,164 in 2016.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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Administrators won’t remove camera pointed at school bathrooms

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Education officials in Cape Breton are refusing to remove a video camera pointed at the entrance of two student bathrooms, despite objections from Nova Scotia’s privacy commissioner.

The camera was one of several at the Rankin School of the Narrows in Iona that was streaming live images to the internet last year because no one set the password on the surveillance system.

« Based on the evidence we have, it is not an authorized collection of personal information, so it isn’t in compliance with the law, » said Catherine Tully, Nova Scotia’s information and privacy commissioner.

Insecam.org, a Russian-registered website, accessed the unsecured webcam and broadcast a live stream of the boys’ bathroom entrance until CBC News alerted school officials in May 2017.

One of the cameras was pointed at the school’s water fountain. (CBC)

The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional Centre for Education declined an interview Wednesday and would not comment specifically on the bathroom camera. However, a spokesperson said in an email that staff have since secured all surveillance cameras behind firewalls.

Michelle MacLeod also said the education centre has strengthened passwords, developed new privacy policies and boosted staff training on the issue.

« We are committed to taking the steps necessary to protect personal information while balancing our responsibility to ensure student safety and security, » she said.

But Tully said the need for a camera pointed at the bathroom entrances has not been established.

« Taking video of children going in and out of a bathroom seems to me more sensitive than a lot of other places you could put a camera, » Tully said.

Catherine Tully is Nova Scotia’s information and privacy commissioner. Unlike in some other provinces, Tully’s recommendations are not binding. (CBC)

After Tully recommended removing the bathroom camera in October 2017, school officials adjusted the camera so that it also points at the entrance to the girls’ bathroom.

« That just made it worse, » said Tully. « That’s the bottom line. It was a problem on the boys’ and now it’s twice the problem. »

Recommendations made by the province’s information and privacy commissioner are not binding unlike in some other provinces, including Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island.

Tully believes the school bathroom camera is an example of why the legislation needs to change.

« My strong recommendation to the government is that it’s time to modernize the law, and that it’s time to give this review power some teeth behind it so that it’s effective. »

Tully said if she had enforcement powers under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the school bathroom camera wouldn’t last.

« It would come down, » she said.



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Ontario’s child protection association names first Black CEO

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Ontario’s child protection system — a sector struggling to address anti-Black racism and the overrepresentation of African Canadian children in foster care and group homes — has appointed its first Black chief executive officer.

Nicole Bonnie, director of diversity and anti-oppression at the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, will take the helm of the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (OACAS) in January.

Her appointment to the association that represents the province’s 47 children’s aid societies comes in the wake of an ongoing Star investigation into kids in care and last summer’s uproar over the Toronto society’s decision to hire a CEO with seemingly no experience in child protection or previous work in the area of diversity.

Bonnie, who previously worked at the Peel Children’s Aid Society, is replacing Mary Ballantyne who is retiring.

Her appointment “is very welcome and exciting news for us,” said Caroline Newton of the OACAS.

Bonnie, who is out of the country, said in a statement to the Star she is “honoured” to lead the association.

“Child Welfare in Ontario is changing in fundamental ways,” she said. “We are listening to the families and communities we serve, and reimagining child welfare in a way that supports them to thrive.”

She said she wants “to help build a child welfare system based on the pillars of respect and empowerment, reconciliation, equity and belonging, and consistent and excellent services across the province.”

The appointment also comes as more than 300 Black children’s aid workers from across the province gather in Toronto this week to discuss the sector’s efforts to fight anti-Black racism and the challenges faced by front-line staff.

“Black people who work in child welfare are often seen by the community as traitors or as not standing up for Black people,” said Kike Ojo, manager of One Vision One Voice (OVOV), a provincially funded program of the OACAS.

“But it’s just not true. People who work on the inside are often fighting like hell to make things better for Black people,” said Ojo, whose initiative is sponsoring the two-day symposium.

Of the province’s 11,000 child welfare workers, about 1,000 — or 10 per cent — are Black, Ojo said.

She said she hopes the symposium, the first of its kind, will be the beginning of a formal network of Black child protection workers in Ontario who can support one another as they push for change from the inside.

“I want to shine a light on why there is so little progress and what it’s like for people on the inside who are change agents,” she said. “I am trying to create protections for them.”

Black workers who advocate for Black families are often criticized by their superiors as being “biased” or “unprofessional,” Ojo said.

“The pushback is incredible. It has cost many workers promotions because they are seen as disruptive,” she said.

“In 13 years of senior leadership in the sector, I have never heard that said of a white worker — that they are being biased or unprofessional in their dealings with a white family,” she said. “This is just one of the forms that anti-Black racism takes.”

Jean Samuel, the OACAS’s first director of diversity, equity and inclusion said Bonnie’s appointment will “give hope” to Black workers in the system.

“It really is going to help Black staff feel their voices can be accepted and embraced to help reimagine the work that we need to do,” said Samuel, who was at the symposium Wednesday.

“Nicole is the first Black CEO in our sector. She’s also a Black female,” Samuel said. “It shows there’s a future for child welfare that is going to look and feel a lot different than it has historically.”

This week’s meeting of Black staff follows a similar gathering of Black youth in care who met in Toronto last summer to share their experiences.

If provincial funding ends, Ojo said she hopes the sector will continue to support annual gatherings for both youth and staff.

The OVOV initiative was launched in January 2015 to address the overrepresentation of Black children in the care of children’s aid societies, a problem highlighted in a 2014 Star investigation and most recently by Ontario’s Human Rights Commission.

According to the latest statistics released by the Toronto society, 32 per cent of children admitted into care in 2017-18 were Black while they represent just 8 per cent of city residents under age 18.

A report by Ontario’s Human Rights Commission last spring found Black children were overrepresented in 30 per cent of CASs, an admission rate 2.2 times higher than their proportion in the child population.

The commission called on societies to improve data collection and increase efforts to address anti-Black racism within their internal policies and structures.

Laurie Monsebraaten is a Toronto-based reporter covering social justice. Follow her on Twitter: @lmonseb



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Police in Kingston looking for victims of alleged child predator – Kingston

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Investigators in Kingston believe there may be more victims in a child pornography investigation.

A 43-year-old Kingston man is facing several child pornography-related charges.

It stems from a Facebook message, sent to a young girl last month. Police said the accused commented on how cute her Facebook photo was. Police allege a few days later, the accused sent messages that were of a sexual nature. The victim contacted police.


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On Tuesday, 43-year-old Robert John Burns was arrested after police and the Internet Child and Exploitation Unit or ICE executed a search warrant at a home in the region.

Burns is facing several child pornography-related charges including making and possessing child pornography and attempting to meet with a person under 16 years of age to commit a sexual offence.

Police are concerned that Burns may have had access or contact with other children as well.

Anyone with information regarding the accused having contact with a child is asked to contact Det. Paul Robb at 613-549-4660 ext. 6383.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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