How will civic engagement look in a post-pandemic Peel?

How will civic engagement look in a post-pandemic Peel?

Governments are the first place residents turn to with questions about everything from snow removal to immigration applications. The pandemic has demanded an unprecedented level of communication between politicians and the public. Unfortunately, this has often left Canadians frustrated and somewhat alienated from government, as communication has frequently been disastrous.

Moving forward, local governments will need to rebuild trust among a public whose civic engagement had already dwindled.



Inoculation ramp-up in Peel looks promising

Inoculation ramp-up in Peel looks promising

With 50 percent of provincial vaccine supplies going toward designated hotspots, it’s allowed Peel Region to lower eligibility to all residents 18 and over.

The Province said for the weeks of May 3 and 10 vaccines will be directed toward the hardest hit areas; what happens after these two weeks is unknown. Many residents have been rolling up their sleeves in hotspots after a seamless process booking their appointments; this has continued in non-hotspot areas as well.



After damning internal audit report radically altered, council strips CAO of all power over audit function 

After damning internal audit report radically altered, council strips CAO of all power over audit function 

A recent report on an investigation into the City of Brampton’s employee benefits program was scrubbed of alarming findings, showing millions of dollars for medical costs had been overpaid.

The extensive altering of the report, without telling the audit committee, was another reason why Council, led by audit Chair Martin Medeiros, on Wednesday stripped CAO David Barrick of all authority over the internal audit function, after he took control of it last year, against the wishes of elected officials.



Social media connected health advocates, filling gaps in the government’s lax pandemic response 

Social media connected health advocates, filling gaps in the government’s lax pandemic response 

Advocates speaking on injustices that exist within the health sector have been using social media for years to share their message.

As COVID-19 spread, these experts gained prominence, using their platforms to connect with people struggling to understand the virus, and sharing clear information backed by evidence the Province refused to acknowledge.   



Brampton’s internal audit function hijacked by CAO, fraud hotline taken over by his hires, committee says

Brampton’s internal audit function hijacked by CAO, fraud hotline taken over by his hires, committee says

Following damning whistleblower allegations against CAO David Barrick, the embattled head of the City’s bureaucracy was grilled during an audit committee meeting Tuesday as members said he has stripped away the accountability function’s independence. Meanwhile, 28 staff complaints that came into the corporate fraud hotline were closed by managers without sharing any details with Council or the audit committee.



New education investment falls short for Peel school system battered by COVID

New education investment falls short for Peel school system battered by COVID

At a press conference Tuesday, Minister of Education Stephen Lecce announced online learning will continue as an option for students into the next school year. The deadline for parents to tell schools is still not determined.

Additional COVID relief funding was also announced, but there are already concerns it won’t be enough for harder hit areas like Peel. 



Peel Police and Human Rights Commission will detail partnership to eradicate systemic racism 

Peel Police and Human Rights Commission will detail partnership to eradicate systemic racism 

Originally due in early 2021, the details of an ambitious partnership between Peel Regional Police and the Ontario Human Rights Commission will be unveiled on May 28.

The plan is still to be finalized and approved, but will focus on data collection and analysis to help eradicate systemic discrimination within the force. 



Ottawa will scrutinize GTA West Highway plan, citing concerns about at-risk wildlife

Ottawa will scrutinize GTA West Highway plan, citing concerns about at-risk wildlife

After a request from Environmental Defence and Ecojustice to take over the approval process for the controversial Highway 413 project, Ottawa has taken a first step.

Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Jonathan Wilkinson, announced he will designate the project under the federal impact assessment protocol, an initial move that could spell the end of a highway many in Ontario do not want.



Saving lives in a booming region: How Peel Paramedics are planning for the region’s explosive growth 

Saving lives in a booming region: How Peel Paramedics are planning for the region’s explosive growth 

Peel’s rapid population growth creates a long list of challenges for those who respond to healthcare emergencies. How can paramedics reach more remote locations faster? How do paramedics reach those living in highrise towers where dealing with healthcare emergencies is already exceedingly difficult?

With Peel’s expansion, paramedics are trying to solve the problems that accompany all the growth. 



Peel police’s corruptness and irresponsibility were also on trial in a Brampton courtroom this week

Peel police’s corruptness and irresponsibility were also on trial in a Brampton courtroom this week

Peel police has yet to apologize for letting its former officer who sexually abused Kevin Dickman walk away.

Frank Kohler was sentenced this week for the serial sex abuse of Dickman, who was just a boy when the former Peel policeman assaulted him over five years. Five decades later, the force he once worked for, which let him walk away a free man despite all the evidence and a confession, remains silent on the past behaviour.



‘That is not factual’: Councillor demands CAO answer for misleading council on audit department – met with silence

‘That is not factual’: Councillor demands CAO answer for misleading council on audit department – met with silence

In a dramatic standoff Wednesday during a Brampton council meeting, Jeff Bowman confronted CAO David Barrick during a discussion on the hiring of an accountability officer after Barrick’s alarming efforts to thwart oversight of himself and the staff he oversees.

Bowman grilled Barrick for misleading council on his involvement with the independent internal audit department.



Part 3: The GTA West Highway is a chance for governments to finally talk to each other about climate change

Part 3: The GTA West Highway is a chance for governments to finally talk to each other about climate change

The federal government will decide by May 4 whether to take control of the GTA West Highway from Queen’s Park and potentially end the project for good.

In the last of a three-part series, The Pointer looks at how the struggle between cities, the Province and Ottawa over the route represents a crucial opportunity to collaborate on climate change, instead of wasting time we don’t have on disagreements that won’t matter once it’s too late. 



GAME CHANGER: All adults in Peel hotspots will be able to book a vaccine starting May 3

GAME CHANGER: All adults in Peel hotspots will be able to book a vaccine starting May 3

After a year of neglect, a huge announcement by Queen’s Park Thursday means every adult in Peel’s hotspot postal-code-areas will be eligible to book a vaccination appointment starting next week.

The new directive has stirred hope among essential workers and other residents, but some are wary of being let down again, after the region’s woeful treatment by the Province throughout the pandemic.



Ford’s latest waffle on paid sick days hits areas like Malton hardest

Ford’s latest waffle on paid sick days hits areas like Malton hardest

Tuesday’s news that Premier Doug Ford will not live up to his recent commitment to finally provide guaranteed paid sick days will have a compounding impact on Malton, which is suffering the highest rates of transmission in Mississauga.

With a clear picture of what has happened in neighbouring Brampton and throughout Malton, why hasn’t Peel Public Health provided the needed support? 



Christine Elliott’s words to the family of a 13-year-old-girl lying in repose: They didn’t receive ‘any less than they’re entitled to’

Christine Elliott’s words to the family of a 13-year-old-girl lying in repose: They didn’t receive ‘any less than they’re entitled to’

Monday was a day that crystallized for many the utter neglect much of Peel has suffered throughout this pandemic. 

In Ottawa, a moment of silence was observed inside Parliament for Emily Viegas, who died due to COVID-19 last week. In Brampton, a sense of dread and hopelessness is washing over the community. 

Meanwhile, Ontario’s Health Minister Christine Elliott, in a heartless response to the girl’s death, claimed the ravaged region is getting all the help it is “entitled” to.  



‘Fire David Barrick’: Brampton residents call for CAO’s removal, demand independent third-party investigation

‘Fire David Barrick’: Brampton residents call for CAO’s removal, demand independent third-party investigation

In the days following damaging allegations of corruption, racism and nepotism made by a now-former senior director inside City Hall, residents are calling for CAO David Barrick to be fired by council members. They voiced their concerns online and off, taking to the streets Monday to protest the City’s handling of the latest accusations and other disturbing conduct by Barrick, while Mayor Patrick Brown, who hired him, remains silent.



Is getting punched part of your job? Campaign hopes to curb violence against paramedics 

Is getting punched part of your job? Campaign hopes to curb violence against paramedics 

During the height of the ongoing pandemic, Peel Paramedics have launched a new public awareness campaign highlighting the shocking levels of violence and harassment first responders experience every day. The latest advocacy effort shows the organization is trying to move beyond its apathetic, macho work culture of the past, to one that understands the mental and physical toll frontline staff struggle with.



‘An untold amount of anguish’: Former Peel police officer gets 4 years in prison for sexually abusing Brampton’s Kevin Dickman five decades ago

‘An untold amount of anguish’: Former Peel police officer gets 4 years in prison for sexually abusing Brampton’s Kevin Dickman five decades ago

For five years in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Kevin Dickman was sexually abused by Frank Kohler, his Big Brother at the time and a Peel Regional Police officer. 

The abuse traumatized Dickman, pushing him into a life of depression, homelessness and drug use. He committed suicide in 2019. 

On Tuesday, Kohler finally faced justice and will spend the next four years in a prison cell. 



Ode to Golf

Ode to Golf

For those privileged enough to play, the ancient game might be the vaccine needed to help them cope with the surging pandemic. But Doug Ford has shut the game down. For segments of the population being most severely ravaged, particularly those who provide essential work, opening golf courses might be the last of their worries, but closing off outdoor recreation is only making the ongoing public health crisis worse.



Senior Brampton staffer drops bombshell allegations against CAO and is fired hours later – Council orders investigation

Senior Brampton staffer drops bombshell allegations against CAO and is fired hours later – Council orders investigation

Claims of corruption, bullying, and questionable procurements inside City Hall are outlined in a stunning email by a woman who, until Thursday, held a senior role in Brampton’s shaky administration.

She was fired hours after her damning allegations, and on Friday council voted for a third-party investigation into CAO David Barrick, a controversial figure who was also at the heart of a scandal that rocked Niagara Region.  



‘Death by 1,000 cuts’: GTA West Highway exposes cataclysmic impact our addiction to urbanization has on wildlife 

‘Death by 1,000 cuts’: GTA West Highway exposes cataclysmic impact our addiction to urbanization has on wildlife 

An analysis completed by The Pointer has discovered nearly 30 species at risk lie within the proposed path of the GTA West Highway. 

Construction of the highway will lead to extensive habitat destruction and proliferate the urban sprawl that has paved over much of Southern Ontario in recent decades. 

With each new development, more habitat is lost and, eventually, there will be nowhere for wildlife to flee. 



Peel’s healthcare system on the brink of collapse

Peel’s healthcare system on the brink of collapse

Ontario’s brutal third wave continues to stretch the ability of Peel’s healthcare providers to care for the sick and track down the infected.

The region is struggling with sky-high positivity rates and overloaded hospitals as the vaccine rollout continues to lag behind the rapidly spreading virus.  



Part 2: Scrapping the GTA West Highway could open Peel to a world of possibilities

Part 2: Scrapping the GTA West Highway could open Peel to a world of possibilities

The federal government will decide by May 4 whether to take control of the GTA West Highway from the provincial government and potentially end the project for good. In the second of a three-part series, The Pointer looks at transit alternatives to the highway and how they could impact growth in the region.

Simply cancelling the route won’t be enough to change the trajectories of growth in Brampton and Caledon. 



Brampton Council votes for bylaw officers to crack down on illegal driveways

Brampton Council votes for bylaw officers to crack down on illegal driveways

For nearly three years, homeowners who expanded their driveways to accommodate extra vehicles beyond the legal allowance, have not faced much trouble.

That is about to change, thanks to a push by City Councillor Jeff Bowman, who questions why some residents have been allowed to do this for so long.



Taxpayers covering Patrick Brown’s lavish spending on newsletters and greeting cards

Taxpayers covering Patrick Brown’s lavish spending on newsletters and greeting cards

In Mississauga and Brampton, many councillors keep their constituents up to date with printed newsletters that are mailed to their doors. In 2020, at the Region of Peel alone, about $133,000 was spent on old fashioned print newsletters to communicate during a rapidly evolving public health crisis.

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, who is fixated on tax freezes and fiscal belt-tightening demanded of others, uses taxpayer dollars to spend excessively promoting himself.



SIU report on Ejaz Choudry’s death shows officers acted reasonably within a ‘deeply flawed’ system 

SIU report on Ejaz Choudry’s death shows officers acted reasonably within a ‘deeply flawed’ system 

The officer who shot Ejaz Choudry to death as the elderly man advanced on him with a kitchen cleaver is the latest to be cleared of wrongdoing by the Special Investigations Unit.

While the Choudry family, community advocates and stakeholders demand answers, the detailed SIU report suggests the problem is not the fault of frontline officers facing the wrath of an angry public.



‘Chaos coming’: Peel hospitals relying on patient transfers could soon be left to fend for themselves

‘Chaos coming’: Peel hospitals relying on patient transfers could soon be left to fend for themselves

Helicopters and ambulances leaving the Region of Peel with COVID-19 patients are the duct tape holding Brampton and Mississauga’s healthcare systems together. 

As hospitals across Ontario fill up, frontline staff are terrified an already strained system could finally break down.



In rapidly growing Brampton, a Facebook group is working to save community spirit 

In rapidly growing Brampton, a Facebook group is working to save community spirit 

A Mount Pleasant resident has dedicated much of his free time to maintaining and running a Facebook group for his neighbourhood.

His efforts are focused on creating a feeling of community in Brampton, helping residents to communicate as the Flower City changes and grows. 



After Brown stalled transit expansion Brampton gets major funding but it’s not aligned with green targets 

After Brown stalled transit expansion Brampton gets major funding but it’s not aligned with green targets 

The City of Brampton is celebrating a significant investment in its transit system by Ottawa and Queen’s Park, after almost $175 million in funding was confirmed.

The money, which will be paid by all three levels of government, means transit expansion can continue after Mayor Patrick Brown removed capital funding from the City budget under his zero-tax-increase policy. One key question: why is the City building infrastructure that doesn’t support its commitment to sustainability? 



Cultivating success for many newcomers in Canada starts with learning English

Cultivating success for many newcomers in Canada starts with learning English

When the pandemic hit, many Canadians adapted with the help of familiar social programs and family networks for support. For newcomers to the country, who came with little more than the possessions in their suitcase, the public health crisis became the latest obstacle in their pursuit of a new life.

A successful transition into a new society was suddenly made even more difficult. Despite setbacks, adult students are quietly plodding along, learning words like resilience, determination... and hope. 



The dangers of our growing mistrust in police

The dangers of our growing mistrust in police

Police shootings and now a misguided provincial backlash against the women and men sworn to protect us raise questions about our faith in law enforcement.

After Doug Ford’s ham-fisted announcement Friday afternoon, confusing an already confused public, misinformation and hysteria around police “carding” were the inevitable outcome of decades of broken trust between police and the public.



Mississauga’s waterfront could become the jewel of Lake Ontario, if people get access

Mississauga’s waterfront could become the jewel of Lake Ontario, if people get access

Between the beginning of May and the end of September, the City of Mississauga will introduce harsh fines for those caught parking illegally near the lakeshore. The move addresses concerns of Ward 1 and 2 residents, but raises broader issues around accessibility for those not fortunate enough to live beside the Great Lake.



Infection surge creates a dangerous backlog of suffering patients in need of life-saving surgery 

Infection surge creates a dangerous backlog of suffering patients in need of life-saving surgery 

Peel Region has been struggling with overwhelmed healthcare resources and inadequate staff numbers for years, resulting in lengthy wait times and hallway care long before COVID hit.

With the third wave of the pandemic crashing over the province, hospitals have been asked to ramp down elective surgeries, causing a domino effect in Peel’s already overburdened healthcare system. 



Part 1: The GTA West Highway is a reckoning on what the rest of Peel wants to be

Part 1: The GTA West Highway is a reckoning on what the rest of Peel wants to be

The federal government will decide by May 4 whether to take control of the GTA West Highway from the provincial government and potentially end the project for good. In the first of a three-part series, The Pointer looks at a major developer who supports the GTA West Highway, analyzing how it stands to gain. Its interests seem directly opposed to aspirational smart growth plans in Peel.



PDSB apologizes for legal action against online critics – but what’s okay in the anonymous world of social media?

PDSB apologizes for legal action against online critics – but what’s okay in the anonymous world of social media?

Nine months after the Peel District School Board began a legal action against anonymous Twitter accounts, its new administration apologized last week. The decision, recognizing the account owners as advocates and not trolls, stirs debate around the protection of anonymous online use.



‘What the hell is going on then?’: Pressure intensifying on RCMP to launch Pornhub investigation 

‘What the hell is going on then?’: Pressure intensifying on RCMP to launch Pornhub investigation 

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki told MPs the nation’s top police agency needs to do better, but stopped short of confirming an investigation into MindGeek.

The porn giant has been under the microscope for months after its alleged failure to report child pornography posted on its website despite laws preventing such behaviour. 



Provincial probe of anti-Black racism at Peel CAS moves forward with investigator picked by senior management

Provincial probe of anti-Black racism at Peel CAS moves forward with investigator picked by senior management

The Centre for Conflict Resolution International has been selected to complete a workplace assessment of Peel Children’s Aid Society after staff complaints of anti-Black racism and discrimination.

However, an internal communication, seen by The Pointer and confirmed by Queen’s Park, shows CCRI had already been chosen by the same Peel CAS senior leadership under scrutiny, before a provincial investigation was even announced. 



‘Standard of care can no longer be met’: Infection surge creates ‘desperate’ scenario for hospitals

‘Standard of care can no longer be met’: Infection surge creates ‘desperate’ scenario for hospitals

Across Peel and the rest of Ontario, the recent jump in infections has put ‘unprecedented’ strain on the province’s frontline healthcare system. Patient transfers and the cancellation of elective procedures are two of the latest outcomes as hospitals scramble to address the latest crush of cases.



Peel schools move online indefinitely as hospital ICU capacity shrinks to worst level during the pandemic

Peel schools move online indefinitely as hospital ICU capacity shrinks to worst level during the pandemic

With the third swell of infections crashing like a tidal wave over Peel, local school boards will keep classrooms closed after the spring break.

Transmission is out of control and the number of ICU patients has reached record-high levels. 



Failing All Our Relations: Ontario’s planning process shirks meaningful Indigenous engagement

Failing All Our Relations: Ontario’s planning process shirks meaningful Indigenous engagement

Most of the lands occupied by Ontario residents are subject to treaties and other agreements with our First Nations. For decades, these obligations to ensure approval from the original inhabitants of the lands we live on have largely been ignored. The same European attitudes that for centuries imposed farcical laws and allowed for the ruthless exploitation of First Nations are seen in the contemporary planning and land-use process, which routinely ignores the rights of the Indigenous in any decision making around their historic terrain.  



The GTA’s booming construction industry & its problem with race

The GTA’s booming construction industry & its problem with race

As the Region of Peel expands to accommodate two of the fastest growing cities in Canada, lucrative building contracts for massive developments are up for grabs. Residents stand to gain from all the growth, but it’s up to the industry, the cities and the region to create opportunities for Peel’s diverse communities which have traditionally been locked out of this high-income sector.



Concerns Peel’s secondary school teachers’ union preventing equity progress at PDSB

Concerns Peel’s secondary school teachers’ union preventing equity progress at PDSB

Concrete actions to transform the Peel District School Board are finally taking hold, with new policies on equitable hiring and student opportunities.

But racialized leaders at the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation District 19 (Peel) are frustrated over their exclusion from critical conversations and their organization’s lack of action.



Mark Carney has a message for greed: Your time is up

Mark Carney has a message for greed: Your time is up

In his new book, Value(s) – Building a Better World for All, the former Bank of Canada head challenges the banking and business worlds. Shift your narrow thinking and become truly dynamic. Profits, he argues, can be made alongside a more human and eco-friendly approach. Not only will we create the economy of the future, we will feel good about it, while saving the planet.



Queen’s Park finally backs targeted vaccination strategy for Peel

Queen’s Park finally backs targeted vaccination strategy for Peel

After months of bad news for Brampton and Mississauga, battered by COVID-19, the Province has finally taken a step to confront the region’s out-of-control viral spread.

On Wednesday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who has ignored Peel’s pleas in the past, revealed a vaccine strategy that will target hotspots and essential workers. 



Solving the homicide of Jackline Gore means adapting to changing times

Solving the homicide of Jackline Gore means adapting to changing times

Years ago, the best way to alert the public of a missing person or a homicide case that’s gone dry would have meant releasing recorded messages on radio stations or putting up a hotline information poster.

Now, police authorities use new communication tools to circulate information on cold cases up to the surface at a moment’s notice.



Peel Region councillors show support for a return to community police stations

Peel Region councillors show support for a return to community police stations

For years, the Peel Regional Police reduced the number of community police stations it ran.

The nine locations the force operated in 2000 were reduced to just two by 2018. A December motion by Councillor Gurpreet Dhillon, amended by his colleagues, supports opening a new station in east Brampton and asking police brass to pivot their philosophy, as residents demand a fresh approach to increased violent crime on the streets of two of Canada’s largest cities. 



Ford gets an F: Peel’s top doctor forced to close all schools down

Ford gets an F: Peel’s top doctor forced to close all schools down

Calls for stricter measures grow as community spread accounted for almost a third of the total infections in Peel last week. After the PC government ignored calls to focus on essential workers and educators, infection rates, unsurprisingly, have gone in the wrong direction.

Now, Peel Public Health has ordered all the region’s schools shut down, immediately, as the local pandemic rollercoaster continues in Ontario’s hardest hit area.



Is it time for councillors to reconsider their cushy car allowances?

Is it time for councillors to reconsider their cushy car allowances?

For a city looking to become a “climate change leader”, and for councillors who pledged to ease the tax burden on local residents in 2021, a generous taxpayer funded allowance to cover a vehicle seems out of place. 

Yet, when the idea of reducing the grant was proposed, many Mississauga councillors balked. 

“I’m not using public transportation,” Councillor Ron Starr said. 



‘It’s not going to deter anybody’: Racist trolls attempt to derail PDSB Sikh Heritage Month event

‘It’s not going to deter anybody’: Racist trolls attempt to derail PDSB Sikh Heritage Month event

A virtual Peel District School Board event organized to celebrate the beginning of Sikh Heritage Month was infiltrated by internet trolls sharing homophobic and racist slurs. The talk, featuring NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, was designed to allow Sikh students and staff join in a celebration of their faith, while educating peers in the diverse region. 



The pandemic offers us an opportunity to rethink our social priorities

The pandemic offers us an opportunity to rethink our social priorities

The Pandemic has shown the worst of greed and self-interest. It has also brought out the best of humanity. Paying too much attention to the gluttony and self-centredness in our society denies us of our most basic need – to be good and do good for our partners in this complicated thing called life.



What could a modern ‘Flower City’ look like?

What could a modern ‘Flower City’ look like?

At its height in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Brampton was the nation’s biggest exporter of cut flowers, known for Edward and Harry Dale’s decades-long work producing some of the world’s finest roses. 

Today, known as the “Flower City” in homage to its rich botanical and rural history, Brampton has capitalized on the opportunity to create curated, blooming gardens known for their beauty and colour. In the age of climate change, the commitment to naturalize and restore native plants and pollinator gardens is arguably more important now than ever.