Peel is Ontario’s hardest hit region, so why was it left out of a major vaccine rollout?

Peel is Ontario’s hardest hit region, so why was it left out of a major vaccine rollout?

Dr. Lawrence Loh is just as puzzled as everyone else, following Friday’s announcement that almost 200,000 new doses of the recently approved AstraZeneca vaccine will be administered to those aged 60 to 64 in certain parts of the province, but not in Peel, which has had Ontario's highest rates of infection throughout most of the pandemic. The news has left the region reeling as the Doug Ford PC government appears to once again be ignoring Peel’s dire situation. 



‘Residents expect total transparency’: Brampton CAO hired under Patrick Brown appears to have violated provincial freedom of information law 

‘Residents expect total transparency’: Brampton CAO hired under Patrick Brown appears to have violated provincial freedom of information law 

Brampton councillors are questioning why David Barrick took over the City’s freedom of information function while concern mounted over his checkered past. 

When he arrived in Brampton to fill City Hall’s top position in 2019, he faced mounting questions about his fraudulent conduct as a bureaucrat in Niagara region’s conservation authority. Since being hired, a number of concerning decisions have been made by the CAO, and councillors are growing increasingly frustrated by the disturbing conduct.



Investments into anti-human trafficking efforts arrive as pandemic continues to increase the risk to Peel’s most vulnerable 

Investments into anti-human trafficking efforts arrive as pandemic continues to increase the risk to Peel’s most vulnerable 

A $3.1 million provincial investment into anti-human trafficking efforts in Peel has arrived at a critical time. 

As the pandemic has exposed Peel’s many social issues, it has increased the risk for many vulnerable residents to being exploited by traffickers. 



Shelter demand & lengths of stay increasing as Peel seeks solutions

Shelter demand & lengths of stay increasing as Peel seeks solutions

The rapidly growing Region has a $120-million capital investment set aside for its Housing Master Plan to help fund the creation of 2,200 affordable units. Compared to other Canadian cities in the last year, Peel saw the fastest growth in its millennial population between July 2019 and July 2020, according to new data from Statistics Canada.

Trends pointing to longer shelter stays and increased domestic violence occurrences – coupled with the effects of the pandemic – underscore the Region’s need to boost affordable housing supply, Council heard. 



Part 1: How boomers are building a resistance movement against retirement

Part 1: How boomers are building a resistance movement against retirement 

In the first part of our three-part series, The Pointer looks at how retirement-living is being completely transformed by baby boomers. The pandemic has forced many of us to reassess our lives and consider dramatic changes. The baby boom generation has already kick-started the process. They are now reinventing retirement. Welcome to a bold new boomer-driven project, The Shores of Port Credit.



Should gripping pandemic imagery be used to make Ontario care?

Should gripping pandemic imagery be used to make Ontario care?

After almost a year of pandemic rules, fatigue as the COVID-19 crisis deepens often turns to apathy. With many traditional communication methods beginning to wear thin, it could be time to pivot to show the shocking scenes unfolding in ICUs or embrace art to communicate shared grief.



Three cases of COVID-19 variant identified in Peel as region grapples with Canada Post outbreak; Trillium to close vaccine clinic amid supply shortage

Three cases of COVID-19 variant identified in Peel as region grapples with Canada Post outbreak; Trillium to close vaccine clinic amid supply shortage

Public Health Ontario is ramping up screening for new COVID-19 variants, with the results of a prevalence test expected in the coming weeks. Ontario public health experts believe it will be the “dominant version of the virus” by March. 

While the province finally reached a two-month low in new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, Peel’s per capita infection rate is still the highest in the province, as health officials continue to investigate a massive outbreak linked to a Mississauga postal facility. 



Brampton councillors hit pause button on controversial plan for Municipal Development Corporation

Brampton councillors hit pause button on controversial plan for Municipal Development Corporation

The move to hand over management of the City’s real estate portfolio to an arms-length company has faced mounting questions since the plan was taken over by the CAO’s office.

The first set of red flags was raised when it was revealed the consultant hired to shape the corporation has close ties to Mayor Patrick Brown. Now councillors are concerned that tough questions are not being answered.



NDP will scrap sprawl-inducing GTA West Highway plan if elected in 2022

NDP will scrap sprawl-inducing GTA West Highway plan if elected in 2022

The Official Opposition has promised to cancel the controversial GTA West Highway if it forms the government or plays a part in a coalition after the 2022 provincial election.

The project, which threatens sensitive lands throughout Peel Region, was scrapped in 2018 by the Liberals and then restarted by the Progressive Conservatives in 2019.



Skyrocketing utility bills in Peel underscore how low-income residents are hit hardest by region’s budgeting 

Skyrocketing utility bills in Peel underscore how low-income residents are hit hardest by region’s budgeting 

While councillors tell residents about the low tax increases they have secured, few are talking about the spiralling cost of water in Peel.

After enduring an increase of more than 7 percent in 2020, people in Brampton, Mississauga and parts of Caledon will find themselves paying a further 5.5 percent for utilities in 2021 ahead of an even larger increase in 2022. 



Ramesh Sangha’s behaviour highlights misleading narratives about Sikh community, experts say

Ramesh Sangha’s behaviour highlights misleading narratives about Sikh community, experts say

Brampton Centre MP Ramesh Sangha has been removed from the Liberal caucus after making “baseless and dangerous" accusations about some of his fellow MPs, the government whip’s office said.

The move means the Liberals will enter the next federal election with a rookie candidate, similar to 2019 when Maninder Sidhu stood for the first time after Raj Grewal stepped aside. 



Advocacy for Brampton & personal branding: The two sides of Gurratan Singh’s social media use

Advocacy for Brampton & personal branding: The two sides of Gurratan Singh’s social media use

The Brampton-East MPP is no stranger to trends and viral videos, with over 1.4 million likes on his TikTok account.

But quantity does not always equal quality, and while Singh is often a vocal advocate on the issues that matter to Brampton, these messages can sometimes be lost among opinions, and viral trends that are trying to sell constituents on the “Gurratan Singh” brand.  



Brown wants City ombud for accountability but questions mount about his own behaviour

Brown wants City ombud for accountability but questions mount about his own behaviour

The City will not be the first to explore the option. Some, like Toronto, have already established an in-house ombud to look into complaints related to City Hall practises. What remains unclear is if this is the best option to serve residents and those council members who are growing increasingly frustrated over the lack of transparency under Brown's mayoralty.



Brampton’s transit dreams lack funding to meet ambitious growth plans

Brampton’s transit dreams lack funding to meet ambitious growth plans

Before the pandemic, transit ridership in Brampton grew year after year. Between 2017 and 2018, it increased by 14 percent alone. With the city’s rapidly growing population, all trends point toward this increase continuing. But Patrick Brown’s demands for tax freezes now raise questions about how the City will pay for its own transit expansion plans.



Angry Caledon councillors take drastic measures to wrestle planning control from Peel Region

Angry Caledon councillors take drastic measures to wrestle planning control from Peel Region

Last week, councillors in Caledon asked the Province to consider an unusual move to increase local control over the broad planning process.

A town council motion, light on detail and heavy on direction, was approved asking for Peel and Caledon to get special planning status. It’s the latest development in Caledon’s souring relations with the Region of Peel, after losing two council seats late last year. 



School special education assistants demand vaccinations while risking their safety to help students

School special education assistants demand vaccinations while risking their safety to help students

While most students are learning from home, some in Peel with special needs still require direct supervision and support.

Braving high infection case counts and unable to socially distance in many situations, with immediate contact unavoidable, educational assistants are sacrificing their safety to continue helping students who need assistance most. 



Ford’s refusal to guarantee paid sick days for essential workers harming Peel’s vulnerable labour force

Ford’s refusal to guarantee paid sick days for essential workers harming Peel’s vulnerable labour force

GTA mayors, labour unions and the NDP are joining other groups including many in the medical community demanding paid sick days. The PCs say support already exists for those workers forced to go into factories, plants and other facilities where many continue to contract the novel coronavirus. NDP leaders are demanding Ford reopen the legislature before February to enact an emergency Bill that would provide guaranteed sick days for those who desperately need them.



Public consultation on demolition of Mississauga outdoor rink lacked transparency, residents say

Public consultation on demolition of Mississauga outdoor rink lacked transparency, residents say

Despite an online petition that thousands of local residents have signed to save the Burnhamthorpe Community Centre outdoor ice rink, the demolition will continue as planned, to make way for a new pool and renovated community centre. Following the City’s decision to reject the online petition, residents are raising concerns over the lack of transparency behind the move.



Brampton staff didn’t tell councillors about social media surveillance plan now raising concern over free speech

Brampton staff didn’t tell councillors about social media surveillance plan now raising concern over free speech

The new measure came about after Mayor Patrick Brown and Councillor Rowena Santos were impersonated on social media late last year.

In response, staff took it upon themselves to make sure it never happens again, raising questions about free speech rights and prompting frustration from some councillors concerned about the lack of public debate around what the proposed social media surveillance of citizens actually means.



Brampton keeps outdoor amenities open amid province-wide stay at home order

Brampton keeps outdoor amenities open amid province-wide stay at home order

Brampton is following Toronto’s lead, instituting a mandatory mask policy at the City’s outdoor skating rinks. It also continues to leave outdoor winter amenities, such as tobogganing hills and trails, open for use to promote exercise and the mental-well being of residents. 



Metrolinx advances Queen Street BRT but, once again, Brampton doesn’t know who will fund it

Metrolinx advances Queen Street BRT but, once again, Brampton doesn’t know who will fund it

In the eyes of some progressive planners, Queen Street holds the key to Brampton’s future. A new business case from Metrolinx outlines how to install rapid transit along the route and how much it will cost, but City Council, which has approved Mayor Patrick Brown’s tax freezes for three straight years, isn’t sure where the money will come from.



Even after two months in lockdown, Peel’s hospitals dangerously beyond capacity while positivity rates have spiked

Even after two months in lockdown, Peel’s hospitals dangerously beyond capacity while positivity rates have spiked

Nearly a month after Premier Doug Ford issued a province-wide lockdown, and only days after he attempted to strengthen that measure with a stay-at-home order, data from the Region of Peel show increased hospitalizations and coronavirus case numbers that are unparalleled across the province.



Patrick Brown is open to social media engagement but needs to be fact checked

Patrick Brown is open to social media engagement but needs to be fact checked

The Brampton mayor is a career politician. His social media pages reflect that. But unlike many others, he allows residents to enter a conversation with him through social media about issues pertaining to the city, something few elected officials do. Unfortunately, he often uses social media to make claims that are not accurate. 



Peel seeks minor tax increase, another big utility hike in 2021 & more money to care for seniors

Peel seeks minor tax increase, another big utility hike in 2021 & more money to care for seniors

Regional Council is set to establish the financial blueprint for the current year. Elected officials will debate staff recommendations for the 2021 budget that include increases of 1.3 percent to property taxes for the Region’s share of the bill, and 5.5 percent to utility rates.

Affordable housing and other social services that have long been neglected will be addressed while councillors grapple with the ongoing financial impacts of the pandemic. 



Brampton councillors raise red flags after man with ties to Patrick Brown handed consultant’s job for proposed Municipal Development Corporation

Brampton councillors raise red flags after man with ties to Patrick Brown handed consultant’s job for proposed Municipal Development Corporation

Council is supposed to make a crucial decision that could impact the city’s future development plans for decades. A central realty group, run under a municipal development corporation, has been proposed. But it’s raising more questions about how decisions have been made since Patrick Brown became mayor, after his dramatic fall from provincial politics in 2018. 



Region ‘mobilizing an army’ as it finalizes vaccination plans 

Region ‘mobilizing an army’ as it finalizes vaccination plans 

A first dose of COVID-19 vaccine has been given to every resident of 28 long-term care homes and 15 at-risk retirement residences in Peel.

Next, officials will continue to vaccinate frontline health workers as they complete the logistics on a mammoth vaccine rollout.



Our Media Platforms: Part 1

Our Media Platforms: Part 1

As traditional journalism outlets continue to struggle – with disruption, a growing lack of trust and outdated business models – the dilemma faced by society now and in the future, is how we embrace our social media platforms. Recent studies show the limitations and potential harm of these sites. Even some who created and engineered them into tech giants are raising red flags because of the impact they are having on addicting our youth. In Part 1 of a 2-part series, we will look at today’s social media behemoths and the failures of traditional journalism outlets.



You can’t visit family locally but flying from Mississauga to Miami is no problem

You can’t visit family locally but flying from Mississauga to Miami is no problem

As people continue to adjust during the stay-at-home restrictions in Ontario, some gaping loopholes remain in place. While police and bylaw officers can force residents to refrain from local trips, travelling to the airport and flying abroad remain acceptable explanations for leaving the house. 



Pandemic revives calls for ‘fair share’ funding in Peel

Pandemic revives calls for ‘fair share’ funding in Peel

For more than 30 years, local leaders in Peel have been vying to attract proportional funding to the region, which receives less than half the per capita dollars of other Ontario municipalities, according to its last “fair share” campaign effort. But funding roadblocks in everything from healthcare to housing have left frustrated residents with more questions than answers as to why the region remains passed over on critical funding opportunities.



City Hall could look to U.S. for innovative municipal small-business relief programs

City Hall could look to U.S. for innovative municipal small-business relief programs

With much finger-pointing to higher levels of government from local leaders in Peel, are municipalities doing all they can to support local businesses?



How can booming construction trades become more diverse?

How can booming construction trades become more diverse?

Several construction unions and industry groups in the GTA are bolstering anti-racism programs following a series of incidents at work sites in the summer.

The Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario has appointed Brampton resident Chris Campbell as its first Equity and Diversity Representative. The efforts aim to improve the makeup of an industry that traditionally has lagged in visible minority representation.



Amid confusion over Ford’s latest enforcement rules advocates worried Peel’s diverse communities will be targeted

Amid confusion over Ford’s latest enforcement rules advocates worried Peel’s diverse communities will be targeted

In Peel Region, the belated release of rules for the Province’s new stay-at-home-order has caused concern.

Police in Brampton and Mississauga have a poor track record on equity and diversity and ill-defined rules expose the danger of arbitrary enforcement. 



Navdeep Bains says family time is the reason he’s walking away from politics

Navdeep Bains says family time is the reason he’s walking away from politics

The Mississauga MP has stepped down from his cabinet role and will not contest the next election, so he can spend more time with his school-age daughters.



Balancing photo-ops with party loyalty, but what do constituents get?

Balancing photo-ops with party loyalty, but what do constituents get?

In a new weekly feature, Social Media Monitor, The Pointer explores how politicians and other local public officials (one a week) use their social media platforms. Are they getting input from citizens to craft policy and shape legislation, or is it the new way to campaign every single day of the year?

For better or worse, social media is at the heart of our discourse, all of the time. Public figures now control digital communication, often sidestepping traditional media. So how are these public servants aiming Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms at you? 



South Asian-Canadian doctors changing the negative COVID-19 narrative around their community

South Asian-Canadian doctors changing the negative COVID-19 narrative around their community

Throughout the pandemic, Peel has remained a frontrunner in new COVID-19 cases. Within the region, Brampton sticks out like a sore thumb. Peel Public Health puts Brampton’s weekly case rate since May at 279 for every 100,000 residents, among the highest rates in Canada. Minority groups that represent the majority of residents have constantly taken the blame for the rise in cases. Those pointing fingers fail to realize the deep inequities that make these groups vulnerable.



BREAKING: Why is Cabinet Minister and Mississauga MP Navdeep Bains suddenly quitting politics?

BREAKING: Why is Cabinet Minister and Mississauga MP Navdeep Bains suddenly quitting politics?

The veteran Liberal politician has been entangled in controversies over recent years that raised questions about his associations.

He is the second high-profile Liberal cabinet minister to step down recently, after former finance minister Bill Morneau left his role following concern over his ties to a charity that was awarded a lucrative federal contract. Bains reportedly will not seek re-election.



Checking our parents’ cultural baggage – Part 3: Breaking the cycle

Checking our parents’ cultural baggage – Part 3: Breaking the cycle

Many in the mainstream are unaware of deep divisions among immigrant and visible minority groups. For youth in Peel, changing their parents’ narrative is a challenging proposition. While commonly understood stereotypes and forms of discrimination are slowly being confronted in our public institutions, youth need to overcome an entirely different set of divisive attitudes under their own roof. 



Are Peel’s COVID isolation beds too little, too late?

Are Peel’s COVID isolation beds too little, too late?

Prior to the new year, Queen’s Park announced new isolation centres for Peel to help a small number infected with the novel coronavirus keep others safe. But these facilities represent a drop in the bucket for a region struggling to cope with rapidly increasing case counts.

Much more resources for testing and tracing are what’s really needed, along with better policies for paid sick-leave and other practices to help essential workers in Peel. 



Brampton neglects future generations: budget shows councillors’ lip service on climate change 

Brampton neglects future generations: budget shows councillors’ lip service on climate change 

Over the years, the City has released nearly half a dozen plans to do its share in the global fight against climate change. These documents, typically carbon copies of previous plans, rarely lead to action. In its first five years, the City’s environmental master plan listed 219 tasks to be completed. The City crossed off only 21 percent of them. 

The lack of action continues with the absence of adequate financial support in the 2021 budget, putting the city on the losing end of a climate emergency.



Far more support for online learning needed with extended school closures, unions say 

Far more support for online learning needed with extended school closures, unions say 

The Province has announced its last-minute plans to extend school closures by a further two weeks, frustrating many Peel teachers.

Issues singled out by unions for months remain unresolved, they say, while the pandemic shows no signs of retreating across the hard hit region.



Already in ‘crisis mode’, Ontario hospitals have no protocol for who gets priority treatment, human rights advocates say

Already in ‘crisis mode’, Ontario hospitals have no protocol for who gets priority treatment, human rights advocates say

Members of the disability community in Ontario have been desperately trying to work with the Province since March after now-withdrawn emergency protocols threatened to block basic access to life-saving healthcare.

Now, more than 10 months into the pandemic, they fear the Province is offering them an impossible choice. 



Mississauga & Brampton to help with local vaccination rollout as Ford declares ‘crisis’ 

Mississauga & Brampton to help with local vaccination rollout as Ford declares ‘crisis’ 

COVID-19 vaccinations are ramping up in Peel, as the Province attempts to inoculate all long-term care residents and frontline health workers before January 21.

The target is the first of several in a vaccine rollout program aimed at ending the rampant spread of the novel coronavirus. 



Peel teachers’ unions demand schools stay closed next week 

Peel teachers’ unions demand schools stay closed next week 

With some elementary schools set to re-open for in-person learning next week, despite surging new-case numbers, teachers’ unions say their members are not convinced it's safe to return to the classroom. 



Trudeau slams Brampton MP Kamal Khera for Seattle trip and raises doubt about her official statement

Trudeau slams Brampton MP Kamal Khera for Seattle trip and raises doubt about her official statement

Speaking at a press conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Leader of the Liberals, expressed his disappointment with Kamal Khera who travelled out of the country recently. In his remarks, he hinted at her dismissal from her special role, despite Khera’s suggestion that she is voluntarily stepping down as a parliamentary secretary.



Will 2021 be another year of delays and unfinished business in Brampton?

Will 2021 be another year of delays and unfinished business in Brampton?

After a turbulent 2020, staff and councillors at Brampton City Hall have their hands full.

A lengthy to-do list, reduced from its 2019 peak, contains a variety of reports that have been repeatedly punted down the road. It could hinder the City’s ability to move forward with new initiatives in 2021. 



Muslim alliance around COVID-19 educates communities & dispels religious concerns over vaccine

Muslim alliance around COVID-19 educates communities & dispels religious concerns over vaccine

The Canadian Muslim COVID-19 Task Force was born out of an emergency meeting by community leaders last March, one day after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

Now, thanks to its wide network of volunteers – including Peel-based faith leaders, physicians and public health specialists – the group is working to provide accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines and its religious context to minimize vaccine hesitancy.  



Brampton MP Kamal Khera refuses to answer questions about trip to Seattle

Brampton MP Kamal Khera refuses to answer questions about trip to Seattle

On Sunday night, the second-term MP issued a statement saying she had travelled to the United States for a family memorial service. The Pointer contacted family members who said they did not know about any such service. Her office said she would not answer questions about why she considered the trip essential.



Checking our parents’ cultural baggage – Part 2: An olive branch for our neighbours

Checking our parents’ cultural baggage – Part 2: An olive branch for our neighbours

Peel Region is home to one of the world’s most diverse populations, with about 130 languages from almost every region of the world spoken in Brampton and Mississauga. This remarkable display of pluralism, pairing such diversity with Canada’s “value system” often fools many outside observers who believe intolerance is rare. Unfortunately, in Peel, and across many parts of our country, our own loved ones often play a starring role in the ongoing hostility that routinely unfolds between fellow citizens.



New novel coronavirus infections on the rise in Peel

New novel coronavirus infections on the rise in Peel

After a slight decline in cases throughout the region was finally seen for a couple days in late December, following the lockdown that took effect near the end of November, infections have climbed since Christmas.



Peel’s lockdown failing to contain virus as cases surge–713 infections reported Saturday; Ontario also records highest number yet 

Peel’s lockdown failing to contain virus as cases surge; 713 infections reported Saturday as Ontario also records highest number yet 

After 2020 introduced the world to COVID-19, many have been holding out hope that 2021 will mark a turning point in the world’s battle against this novel disease. 

Two days into the new calendar, the novel coronavirus appears to be spreading faster than ever, with case numbers reaching a new daily high across Ontario led by numbers in Peel Region.



Rod Phillips’ resignation raises questions around misleading social media use

Rod Phillips’ resignation raises questions around misleading social media use

Resigning after public outcry over a Christmas holiday to St. Barts in the Caribbean, Rod Phillips’ behaviour which misled the public about his whereabouts raises concern about how social media is being used by elected officials. It highlights how tax dollars can be used to spin voters instead of informing them.



Checking our parents’ cultural baggage – Part 1: Online hate

Checking our parents’ cultural baggage – Part 1: Online hate

Youth are exposed to a wide range of hate speech that is pervasive across digital platforms. Decades-old religious and political divisions between older generations who trace their roots to the same places and the rhetoric of intolerance have found a space to thrive in the unchecked corners of our virtual world. Communities, including young people in Canada and around the world are being influenced to view neighbours as the other because of differences they often don’t even understand. Many are pushing back to break the cycle of hate.