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Good morning, Greater Sudbury! Here are a few stories to start your day

Friday is here
071021_linda-derkacz-bees-purple-aster crop reader Linda Derkacz sent this lovely image of bees enjoying her purple asters. welcomes submissions of local photography for publication with our morning greeting. Send yours to [email protected]

Good morning, Greater Sudbury! Here are a few stories to get you going on this Friday morning.

Top doc suggests masks for trick-or-treaters and at Thanksgiving gatherings with mixed vaccine statuses

Ontario's medical officer of health had some special instructions for Thanksgiving dinner and Halloween parties and trick-or-treating in his weekly update today. Dr. Kieran Moore reminded Ontarians to stick to gathering limits, keep up with handwashing, and considering keeping masks on indoors where there are unvaccinated people gathering with vaccinated people. More than once through his update, Moore urged people to stay home if they are feeling any symptoms of illness. "No one should attend a gathering if they are sick, even with mild symptoms," said Moore. He repeated his guidance teased earlier this week suggesting vaccinated people could feel free to remove their masks in indoor settings where those present have also been vaccinated. In situations where groups are mixed with vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, though, Moore recommended masking indoors. "Make your event as safe as possible," said Moore. For Halloween, Moore said trick-or-treating would be safest outdoors and that trick-or-treaters should wear masks. "But remember, a costume mask is no substitute for a face covering," said Moore.

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Environmental concerns persist at frequent crash site on Highway 144

Ralf Albrecht is fed up with what he considers the province’s general disinterest in environmental stewardship along a stretch of Highway 144 that borders his property. The site, south of Onaping and Levack around where Marina Road intersects with the highway, has long since drawn the community’s ire for its numerous motor vehicle incidents. Although Albrecht agrees this area poses a serious safety concern, as he has witnessed the aftermath of a number of collisions in front of the house he shares with wife, Lara Jourenkova, he contends the environmental impacts have been underreported. “On a high water day, that corner bleeds with diesel because accident after accident has been done and very rarely do they do a cleanup,” he said. “I found an area that (fuel) was just literally coming out of the ground because of the moisture.” While walking his property and the adjoining Windy Creek earlier this week, Albrecht pointed to a few places where water was seen flowing over booms that were put in place to prevent the spread of contaminants. Spilled fuel has been an ongoing concern for years, but he said it shifted into overdrive this summer when a semi-truck crashed, sending the contents of its diesel tank spilling into the creek. Albrecht is critical of the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks’ reaction to the spill as well as the capabilities of the private contractors enlisted to do cleanup work. “They should have been capturing more fuel,” he said, adding that the booms should have been placed more quickly and never been breached. “Boom after boom has been failing.”

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Ontario announces funds to hire more than 4,000 long-term care workers this year

Ontario's long-term care operators welcomed provincial funding announced Wednesday to hire more than 4,000 staff within a year but advocates and employees said more must be done to improve working conditions in the sector. Long-Term Care Minister Rod Phillips said the province would put aside $270 million to hire 4,050 long-term care workers by the end of next March. It's part of a previously announced plan by the Progressive Conservative government to hire more workers for the sector, with a goal of getting long-term care residents an average of four hours of direct care per day by 2025. "This investment will allow all homes to hire and retain the staff they need to increase daily direct care so that we can meet the annual goals set out in our staffing plan," Phillips said at a press conference in Toronto. The government plans to introduce legislation this fall that would enshrine the four-hour care standard into law, the minister said. 

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Lo-Ellen teacher Colin Ward presented with provincial coaching award

A long-time teacher and coach at Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School has been honoured provincially for his contribution to athletics. Colin Ward received the 2021 Male School Sport Coach Award from the Coaches Association of Ontario. The award was presented virtually by two-time world champion and Olympian Perdita Felicien Sept. 17. Every year, Ward builds the participation rate, fitness level and technical skills of the athletes in his care. For him, one of the most rewarding elements of coaching is introducing students to a sport and seeing it become their passion. “It’s been interesting to watch a lot of students grow and change,” he said, in a press release. Having coached track and field and cross-country running for the past 22 years, and Nordic skiing for the last seven years, Ward inspires all athletes to acquire the skills necessary for life in sport. A teacher in outdoor education, kinesiology and personal fitness, his dedication to student wellness extends well beyond the classroom. “On behalf of Rainbow District School Board, I would like to thank Colin Ward for his long-time contribution to athletics,” said Director of Education Bruce Bourget, in a press release. “Colin Ward is an outstanding role model for students. He is most deserving of this provincial recognition." 

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FAO identifies $170B in pandemic relief spending in Ontario from 2019 through to 2023

Ontario's Financial Accountability Office (FAO) has identified more than $170 billion of federal and provincial government spending in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The spending will occur from the 2019-2020 budget year through to 2022-2023. In financial terms, the FAO said it has identified 128 federal government measures and 118 provincial measures, categorized as direct support actions (increased spending and reduced revenue) and liquidity measures (tax deferrals and interest-free loans). In actual dollar amounts the FAO said the biggest share of the spending (39 per cent), more than $66 billion, will benefit businesses. The next biggest chunk (15 per cent) will be more than $25 billion allocated to the health sector. Municipalities are identified for $5 billion (three per cent) and schools and child care are identified for $3.5 billion (two per cent). The FAO said spending in "other" areas would amount to $5 billion (three per cent). In a news release issued Wednesday, the FAO said that more than $35 billion would be in direct provincial support with roughly half of that being $18 billion in new provincial spending (52 per cent). Another $9.8 billion will be funded by cash transfers from the feds (28 per cent) and more than $7 billion in reallocated provincial spending and savings from non-COVID-19 programs (20 per cent).

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Porter Airlines restores service to northeastern Ontario

Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury and Timmins are back on Porter Airlines' radar. The Toronto-based air carrier announced Oct. 6 that it is returning to all 18 of its year-round destinations today with the addition of the three northeastern Ontario cities, plus Fredericton and Saint John, N.B. The airline resumed flights to Thunder Bay on Sept. 8, beginning with a three-flight-a-week approach to the northwestern Ontario air hub, after an 18-month suspension of flights due to pandemic-related travel restrictions. The company said it would be taking a phased approach in restoring service. In a statement, Porter president-CEO Michael Deluce called today's return to service a "significant milestone in our recovery."

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Public Health Sudbury reports 14 new COVID-19 cases for Oct. 7, Ontario reports 587

Public Health Sudbury and Districts (PHSD) has reported 14 new cases of COVID-19 in the local jurisdiction for Oct. 7. The health unit is also reporting there are 62 active cases being monitored. This is the highest number of active cases in the Sudbury jurisdiction since the first week of February (67 cases on Feb.3). Also, since the PHSD began tracking COVID-19 cases just over 19 months ago, there have been 2,490 total COVID-19 cases confirmed locally. PHSD also said 2,428 of those cases are now resolved. There are also 1,216 cases that are "confirmed or presumed to be" positive for variants of concern — an increase of seven new cases in the past 24 hours.Public Health Ontario reported 587 new COVID cases today. The latest updates noted 586 recoveries and six deaths that have occurred in the last month. One death previously reported has now been removed from the cumulative total. 

High of 20 today, but chance of showers in the forecast

Although the nice weather will continue for part of today, the great fall weather couldn’t last. Expect a mix of sun and cloud today, with fog patches dissipating in the morning. Today’s high is 20, with a UV index of four, or moderate. There’s a 40-per-cent chance of showers in the late afternoon. This evening, the skies will get cloudy, with a 40-per-cent chance of showers and a low of 12.