Confronting crime before it ever happens

Confronting crime before it ever happens

A community safety plan to focus stakeholders on curbing youth violence in Peel as a new chief is set to arrive, is the key to addressing the rise in crime. A new regional plan mandated by the province is now taking shape, just as the incoming chief of police is set to take over the third largest municipal force in the country in October. He says crime has to be approached with an “upstream” strategy, tackling the root social and environmental factors that push young people in the wrong direction.



“Rewarding someone for a bad decision; I wouldn’t go that far,” Brown says about Peel Public Health funding increase

“Rewarding someone for a bad decision; I wouldn’t go that far,” Brown says about Peel Public Health funding increase

Health Minister Christine Elliott announced Monday that  all municipalities across Ontario will share costs of public health funding on a 70-30 ratio. For the Region of Peel, this was good news as it will lighten the cost of paying for public health. The region has previously covered 37 percent of the pricetag. But Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown warns that provincial cuts in other areas will pose a significant challenge for the city’s taxpayers.



Part 2: New champions needed to bolster the fight against human trafficking

Part 2: New champions needed to bolster the fight against human trafficking

It only takes one spark to light a local politician into action on behalf of a worthwhile cause. The rising rate of human trafficking in our cities should propel our local leaders to join advocacy efforts around the world.

The ongoing annual meeting of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario is the perfect place for the latest warrior in the fight against this modern form of slavery to emerge. All it takes is for the light to be switched on. 



Addressing the growing problem of human trafficking requires resources, and concern

Addressing the growing problem of human trafficking requires resources, and concern

A who’s who of municipal and provincial leaders are in Ottawa this week to schmooze, plan and discuss some of the most pressing concerns facing municipalities today.

In this first of a three part series, The Pointer looks at three reasons why the issue of human trafficking should be among them.



Justin Trudeau is on the ropes; a new book offers a raw look at the man trying to hang onto his title

Justin Trudeau is on the ropes; a new book offers a raw look at the man trying to hang onto his title

Journalist John Ivison has penned a profile of Justin Trudeau, as Brampton voters and many other Canadians decide whether or not the son of a formidable former leader has what it takes to steer our country during these politically volatile times.



Brampton and Mississauga’s rate of increase in violent crime tripling Canada’s over last five years

Brampton and Mississauga’s rate of increase in violent crime tripling Canada’s over last five years

Police and municipal leaders like to point to stats showing that Mississauga and Brampton have a lower rate of violent crime than many other cities.

And while that’s true — for now — just-released national crime statistics show that the violent crime severity rate is worsening three times faster here than the national average.



They stole, lied about it, and were caught, but plea deal for four Peel cops leaves unanswered questions

They stole, lied about it, and were caught, but plea deal for four Peel cops leaves unanswered questions

Four officers who resigned from the Peel police service last month accepted a one-year conditional sentence after admitting to obstructing justice following a bizarre theft of a Scarface movie character’s statue from an accused man’s storage unit.

The criminal defence lawyer who brought the theft — and their lies about it — to light thinks neither the police service nor the court went far enough in making an example of them.



Incoming chief talks priorities and vision for Peel police

Incoming chief talks priorities and vision for Peel police

Nish Duraiappah will be the first Ontario police chief of South Asian heritage when he takes over the Peel Police Service in October. But in a wide-ranging interview with The Pointer, the Twitter-savvy father of three waves off that historic point to reflect on the changing community role of policing, how to build a progressive, diverse and forward-thinking police force in Peel, and ways to curb violent crime before it happens.

In a police service described as “change-averse,” the widely praised Halton Region deputy chief has a steep challenge ahead.

 



GO Transit users need not fear privacy breach, expert says

GO Transit users need not fear privacy breach, expert says

Ontario’s former privacy commissioner says she’s satisfied Metrolinx’s plans to share “aggregated” data on transit riders with companies will not violate the privacy of individuals.

But Metrolinx’s rollout of its plan to seek corporate investment through naming rights and data-sharing wasn’t handled with proper transparency, critics say. And Brampton MPP Sara Singh isn’t convinced that riders whose movements are tracked on their Presto cards won’t see negative effects.



Liberals nominate unknown Maninder Sidhu to challenge Raj Grewal

Liberals nominate unknown Maninder Sidhu to challenge Raj Grewal

Sidhu, the only applicant, has been acclaimed as the Liberal nominee for Brampton East, which means he will run against ex-Liberal Raj Grewal.

For voters, he’s a mystery man; he has said little about himself publicly, and there appears to be no information about his candidacy online. But much of this is more common than you’d think.



In Brampton, and across Canada, youth anxiety is becoming an epidemic

In Brampton, and across Canada, youth anxiety is becoming an epidemic

Recent research raises concern about the state of our youth, particularly girls and young women. Increasing rates of anxiety and self-harm are being reported across the country. But researchers are unsure of the cause.

Increased time on screens and the expectations created by many social media platforms, or other unknowns that lurk in the dark corners of the cyberworld, could be part of the problem. But no one seems to know exactly why rates of anxiety among youth are increasing so dramatically. 



A new police chief will have to prove himself, but two mayors deserve credit for their bold step

A new police chief will have to prove himself, but two mayors deserve credit for their bold step

He’s the best person for the job. That’s the message about incoming Peel police chief Nishan Duraiappah, who takes over at the start of October. He has a rocky hill to climb, with a force plagued by recent controversies.

A status quo approach to stick with an internal hire was the politically safe move for Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie and Brampton’s Patrick Brown. But they chose instead to do the right thing. Public safety and building trust with the community drove the two leaders to find their man, despite all the pressure they faced.



The joy of cricket played with pace in the perfect city to grow the game

The joy of cricket played with pace in the perfect city to grow the game

Brampton’s international Global Twenty20 cricket tournament being played over two weeks at the CAA Centre, attracting some of the best bowlers and batsmen around the globe, highlights the game’s promise in a country that has long had a fringe interest in the sport.

Speeding it up for 21st century tastes might just be the key to growing a wildly popular pastime that enjoys a cult following in many other parts of the world.



Anaerobic digestion facility set to revolutionize what happens to your green bin

Anaerobic digestion facility set to revolutionize what happens to your green bin

A $108-million processor to be built on Orenda Road in Brampton will change the way composting is done in Peel Region, producing not only agricultural fertilizer but a non-fossil form of natural gas — and in a way that eliminates the “stinky air” issue.

It’s all part of Peel’s ambitious plan to divert 75 percent of curbside waste collection from landfills.



The new face of policing in Peel: Nishan Duraiappah named chief

The new face of policing in Peel: Nishan Duraiappah named chief

A Sri Lankan-born officer with a sterling reputation as a deputy chief in neighbouring Halton Region will take over the helm of the Peel Regional Police Service in October.

Duraiappah is being hailed as “an inspirational and aspirational leader” and the “next generation of leadership,” who will bring fresh perspectives and innovation to policing in Peel. His hiring offers a chance for a police service living under a cloud of systemic discrimination, inside and outside, to open a new chapter.



Learning in a new land leaves international students vulnerable

Learning in a new land leaves international students vulnerable

An ongoing study finds financial instability may be one reason for a seemingly high incidence of sex-for-money trades by international students studying at Sheridan College and elsewhere in Peel Region.

That raises concern about the vulnerability of students to becoming victims of sex trafficking in a region with a human trafficking rate double the national average.



Provincial backtracking on controversial changes to autism program leaves many families waiting months longer

Provincial backtracking on controversial changes to autism program leaves many families waiting months longer

Monday’s announcement that the province would work on developing a “needs-based” support program in consultation with parents and experts came as welcome news to families with autistic children who have protested sweeping changes to autism support. Minister Todd Smith apologized for the anxiety a misbegotten plan had caused. But the changes won’t come until next spring, leaving many families in Brampton and across the province in limbo.



The GTA mayor leading the charge against Ford’s developer friendly system

The GTA mayor leading the charge against Ford’s developer friendly system

Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward wants the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal abolished. She’s encouraging other mayors to join her in the fight against an “anti-democratic” institution the Doug Ford government just strengthened.

For Brampton, a city trying to shift away from developer-controlled planning, the future of the LPAT will have sweeping implications.



Mad Max, the political sequel, features a controversial protagonist; Liberals should be worried  

Mad Max, the political sequel, features a controversial protagonist; Liberals should be worried  

Maxime Bernier, leader of the People’s Party of Canada, jumped into the crucible of multiculturalism Wednesday and emerged unscathed from a rally at a hall in Malton. He brought a clear message to voters that reducing immigration to this country is a priority. He laid out the economic and societal reasons why and that struck a chord with his roomful of supporters. Those who fear that Bernier might steal some Conservative votes could be miscalculating the real threat, to Liberals. Ours is a country, like much of the western world, now confused about immigration and national identity.



Tiny homes and other creative solutions needed to solve Peel’s affordable housing crisis

Tiny homes and other creative solutions needed to solve Peel’s affordable housing crisis

An innovative idea for a tiny-house village from SHIP, one of Peel Region’s providers of housing for people in precarious living conditions, is one example of the imaginative thinking that could help solve a problem facing thousands of lower-income households.

But Peel’s ambitious goal of seeing 75,000 new affordable housing units built over the next 10 years won’t be achieved without support from upper governments and cooperation from the private sector.



Province opens up federal transit funding to Brampton and 10 other municipalities

Province opens up federal transit funding to Brampton and 10 other municipalities

After months of complaints by the city and the federal government that the province was withholding vital infrastructure dollars from municipalities, the government of Doug Ford has finally opened up applications for the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. 

The city had hoped to get $47 million from the federal fund’s Public Transit Stream to replace aging buses and expanding the Brampton Transit fleet. But staff were forced to ask for interim funds from city taxpayers in place of the federal dollars. 



The PGA, the Punjabi Golfers Association, could help save the game

The PGA, the Punjabi Golfers Association, could help save the game

Golf is slowly pulling itself free from its exclusive and restrictive past and attracting a new wave of diverse players. The straight shooters on the executive of the Punjabi Golfers Association, yes, the PGA, are playing their part in growing the sport at a time when it needs help.



Province releases nearly $2 billion to build and renovate schools — but will there be enough for Peel?

Province releases nearly $2 billion to build and renovate schools — but will there be enough for Peel?

With many Brampton schools bursting at the seams, Education Minister Stephen Lecce’s announcement of funding for school construction and renewal comes as a relief to Peel school boards.

But it’s unclear how much of that money will come to the region, with four much-needed new school projects already in the queue for provincial support.



“I want to go after you for doing this to me”: defence lawyer who exposed police misconduct, suing Peel force, Crowns for targeting her with criminal charges 

“I want to go after you for doing this to me”: defence lawyer who exposed police misconduct, suing Peel force, Crowns for targeting her with criminal charges 

Charges of perjury and obstruction of justice against Leora Shemesh were dismissed last year, but the criminal defence lawyer isn’t prepared to let what she regards as a blatant attack on her integrity and reputation go that easily.

She’s suing Peel police and Crown attorneys who laid the charges, claiming they colluded against her in retaliation for her efforts to expose police wrongdoing.



Axing of addictions program comes when Peel may need it most

Axing of addictions program comes when Peel may need it most

The provincial government says it’s chopping a program to help people with combined mental health and addiction issues find jobs because it’s not working.

But some municipalities that have formally assessed the Addiction Services Initiative’s success in getting people off social assistance beg to differ. 



Anti-racism expert urges Peel schools to teach problematic ‘classics’ with care

Anti-racism expert urges Peel schools to teach problematic ‘classics’ with care

To Kill a Mockingbird, with its white-saviour perspective on racism in the Deep South, may be a book that has passed its best-by date, says education professor Carl James. But in designing education that respects, supports and empowers Black students, context is everything.



Peel councillor pushes for united voice on stopping rise in gender-based violence

Peel councillor pushes for united voice on stopping rise in gender-based violence

As Ottawa ponders how to spend $86 million set aside for quelling “unbelievable” violence directed mostly at women, Mississauga Councillor Chris Fonseca wants to get backing from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to ensure cities are part of the discussion.

It’s not clear yet what Peel Region would prefer to do with its share, but human trafficking and domestic disputes are both huge and growing issues here.



Can Jagmeet Singh deliver for his hometown as PM?

Can Jagmeet Singh deliver for his hometown as PM?

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh returned to his political roots when he visited this year’s Carabram festivities over the weekend.

He’s promising two major items for Brampton but faces an uphill battle to get elected this fall, especially with a party whose nomination process seems in disarray.



Fight continues to save the “emergency room” of legal services

Fight continues to save the “emergency room” of legal services

A 30 percent slash in funding for Legal Aid Ontario means many of Peel Region’s most vulnerable residents will be cut off from access to a lawyer for help in dealing with life-changing crises.

The cuts, says the co-director of a Mississauga legal clinic, don’t just challenge the fairness of our legal system, they’ll end up costing Ontario taxpayers a lot more than they save.



Sex trafficking is about the exploitation of females by men

Sex trafficking is about the exploitation of females by men

In too much literature, in the example of some so-called political leaders and across our consumer-corporate society, male power is still glorified, even celebrated. The Jeffrey Epstein case is the latest example of how deeply entrenched attitudes toward women and girls force many of them down a dark path into the lairs of those men who prey on their vulnerability.



Peel urged to work quickly with provincial overhaul of health care

Peel urged to work quickly with provincial overhaul of health care

Amid the province’s sweeping reorganization of how healthcare is administered, staff are encouraging Peel Region council to get involved early in shaping the three new Ontario Health Teams expected to run the system across the region.

Jumping in immediately will help ensure the region’s priorities are heard — even if the “efficiencies” touted by the governing PCs fail to be realized.



Peel poised to take in 250 more refugees — plus evacuees from fire-ravaged Northern Ontario

Peel poised to take in 250 more refugees — plus evacuees from fire-ravaged Northern Ontario

The federal and provincial governments have both asked the region to provide temporary shelter for people fleeing their homes. It’s getting to be a regular thing, since Ottawa requested help in easing the strain on Toronto’s refugee services last year.



Peel property owners facing sharp tax hike next year

Peel property owners facing sharp tax hike next year

The Region of Peel says it will have to increase property taxes by more than 6 percent on its share of the bill next year to maintain current service levels, largely because of cuts being planned by Queen’s Park that will download many costs onto municipal property owners. In Brampton, which faces a growing infrastructure deficit at the local level, homeowners could be on the hook for a massive tax increase in 2020. 



High-profile U.S. case highlights what police, service providers are up against when combatting human trafficking

High-profile U.S. case highlights what police, service providers are up against when combatting human trafficking

The shocking Jeffrey Epstein human trafficking case has grabbed the international spotlight, but sadly it’s the high-powered people close to the American billionaire driving much of the attention.

Those fighting the rapidly growing demand for the trafficking of women, many of them teenagers and younger, say the case shows just how far-reaching this devastating criminal activity has become.



Sara Singh can look to Hazel McCallion, a pioneering female politician who fought the old boys’ club

Sara Singh can look to Hazel McCallion, a pioneering female politician who fought the old boys’ club

The Ontario NDP Deputy Leader and Brampton MPP is dealing with a former party riding association president who has admitted his romantic feelings for her. Singh has had to file a formal harassment complaint and recently sent the man a cease and desist letter. It’s 2019, but many women in politics still have to put up with attitudes of privilege that continue to define a Mad Men world of male entitlement. But when Hurricane Hazel McCallion blew into town decades ago, she put men in that world on notice: don’t mess with this new force that’s only going to get stronger.



The Ford government gets straight F’s for its ill-fated effort to revamp our once proud educational system

The Ford government gets straight F’s for its ill-fated effort to revamp our once proud educational system

New Education Minister Stephen Lecce was sent out by his masters to fix the PC party’s failing reputation ahead of this October’s federal election. But cheap tricks only remind Ontarians that Doug Ford is using the same Mike Harris playbook that got their party booted from leadership for more than 15 years.



Part 3: The Ideas — Changing tack in the battle against human trafficking

Part 3: The Ideas — Changing tack in the battle against human trafficking

Prevention may be as important as repairing the damage to curtail the impact of human trafficking in Peel. If we learn to employ strategies effectively and with a commitment like that shared by participants in the Global Conference on Human Trafficking and Trauma, public education and even mathematics may be able to help.



New and improved career studies program not all it’s cracked up to be, critics say

New and improved career studies program not all it’s cracked up to be, critics say

Changes to a Grade 10 mandatory course, including beefed-up components involving financial literacy and emerging careers, won’t do much to help students suffering the more immediate results of funding cuts and increased class sizes, say some educators.

The curriculum update announced this week by new Education Minister Stephen Lecce follows a series of major changes to Ontario’s education system that will result in fewer teachers, fewer support staff and fewer course options in schools across the province.



Lessons in handling money, preparing for vast changes to the job market added to Ontario’s high school curriculum

Lessons in handling money, preparing for vast changes to the job market added to Ontario’s high school curriculum

Financial literacy and steering students toward the jobs of the future are top goals as the revised Career Studies course, a required half-semester program for Grade 10 students in Brampton and across the province, rolls out this fall. 

The new curriculum also reckons with the fact that many jobs are disappearing in the face of new technology and that students need to know how to pick a career path that won’t be taken over by robots. (Of course, they could build those robots.)



Updated: Brampton MPP Sara Singh levels harassment allegations against former NDP riding association president, who could face legal action

Updated: Brampton MPP Sara Singh levels harassment allegations against former NDP riding association president, who could face legal action

In February 2018, former Brampton Centre NDP Riding Association president Bruce Marshall was asked to leave Sara Singh’s campaign, apparently in response to allegations made by the candidate, who was later elected. In her complaint in spring 2018, a month before the election, and again in a recent letter written to Marshall this May, Singh alleged a pattern of inappropriate behaviour, including repeated unwanted advances, inappropriate touching and communication, and intrusive behaviour at public events.



Part 2: Need and nuance — Peel’s human trafficking survivor supports fall woefully short of the need 

Part 2: Need and nuance — Peel’s human trafficking survivor supports fall woefully short of the need 

Sex trafficking flourishes amid public apathy and a lack of supports to help women who escape find healing and a permanent path out of poverty and exploitation. There are solutions out there — and people passionately prepared to do the hard work — but they’ll need money and political commitment.



New education minister raises hopes for a change in direction

New education minister raises hopes for a change in direction

Minister Stephen Lecce’s pledge to listen to teachers’ concerns amid his call to speed up negotiations on new contracts for teachers seems a good sign, says local union president Gail Bannister-Clarke. But the leader of Peel’s public elementary teachers still wonders: are the governing PCs prepared to bargain in good faith?



Part 1: Hundreds gather in Peel, the heart of Ontario’s human trafficking network, to hunt for answers

Part 1: Hundreds gather in Peel, the heart of Ontario’s human trafficking network, to hunt for answers

Often lost in statistics, arrest reports and confusion about the nature of sex trafficking is the very real and human story of a level of violence and suffering – sexual, physical, psychological — that a seasoned researcher tells a packed conference room “has touched my heart so deeply.”



Peel Region fights for public health independence

Peel Region fights for public health independence

A move to merge Peel Region’s public health unit with three others has regional councillors worried about whether the unique needs of this diverse region, with a population of 1.4 million, will continue to get the focus they deserve. 

They’re petitioning the province to keep things as they are, at least in Peel.



Paramedics could be on Peel streets 39,000 hours less next year following budget cut

Paramedics could be on Peel streets 39,000 hours less next year following budget cut

As calls for ambulances race upward, a $4.9 million shortfall in Peel’s health budget following provincial cuts could mean longer waits for people in crisis and a reduced ability to deal with multiple emergencies.



While LRT extension into downtown Brampton remains a dream, Hurontario project moves ahead

While LRT extension into downtown Brampton remains a dream, Hurontario project moves ahead

Councillors met in camera on Wednesday to discuss details of the planned Hurontario light rail line as it enters Brampton, with a terminus at Steeles Avenue. Talks are happening with property owners along the city’s southern LRT corridor affected by the current project as it heads north from Mississauga into Brampton. But residents hoping the route will continue into downtown are still waiting for answers to key questions about the future of LRT in the city.



“It’s probably going to get worse before it gets better”: Peel sees 520% increase in opioid emergencies

“It’s probably going to get worse before it gets better”: Peel sees 520% increase in opioid emergencies

While the region has been spared the most devastating effects of a North American epidemic of opioid addiction, statistics suggest the situation isn’t improving.

There were 81 opioid-related deaths in 2017, and overdoses continue to strain the region’s emergency departments.



Decision on new police chief won’t come until the fall

Decision on new police chief won’t come until the fall

An executive search firm is helping with a Canada-wide search for a replacement for Jennifer Evans, who resigned in January after a troubled six-year term as chief. The decision on a new leader comes at a difficult time for Peel Region Police, with a rise in violent crime and a police force struggling to better reflect the diverse community it serves.



Cannabis fallout: Police grapple with $1.2M in extra costs as Peel works out how to split provincial payout

Cannabis fallout: Police grapple with $1.2M in extra costs as Peel works out how to split provincial payout

Police say they’ve spent a big chunk of money on officer training with very little to show for it from the funding promised to municipalities to ease the process of legalizing pot.

Some of the provincial money is helping to pay for a public awareness program and data gathering at the Region of Peel. Meanwhile, the existence of legal cannabis in Brampton doesn’t appear to be making even a dent in illicit dispensaries.



Call it what it is, Peel agency says: Human trafficking is a public health crisis

Call it what it is, Peel agency says: Human trafficking is a public health crisis

It’s a fact that escapes the notice of most Peel residents: the region is one of the top areas in Canada for the horrific and often lucrative crime of human sex trafficking.

A conference over the next two days will bring together experts to discuss how to rein in perpetrators and how to help women and girls heal from the devastation of human trafficking. Family Services of Peel wants this declared a public health crisis.