Massive storm leaves parts of California flooded, without power

WATCH: 'Bomb cyclone' brings rough winds, heavy rain to North America's West Coast

A massive storm barreled toward Southern California on Monday after flooding highways, toppling trees, cutting power to about 380,000 utility customers and causing rock slides and mud flows in areas burned bare by wildfires across the northern half of the state.

Drenching rains and strong winds accompanied the weekend arrival of an atmospheric river — a long plume of Pacific moisture — into the drought-stricken state.

Rainfall records were shattered and heavy snow pounded high elevations of the Sierra Nevada. The National Weather Service issued numerous flash flood warnings.

There were widespread power outages in Northern California, with Pacific Gas & Electric reporting Sunday evening that about 130,000 customers did not have electricity, though the utility said power had been restored to about 250,000 customers.

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Flooding was reported across the San Francisco Bay Area, closing streets in Berkeley, inundating Oakland’s Bay Bridge toll plaza and overflowing rivers in Napa and Sonoma counties.

“It’s been a memorable past 24 hours for the Bay Area as the long talked-about atmospheric river rolled through the region,” the local weather office said. “We literally have gone from fire/drought conditions to flooding in one storm cycle.”

The weather service called preliminary rainfall totals “staggering,” including 11 inches (27.9 centimeters) at the base of Marin County’s Mount Tamalpais and and 4.02 inches (10.2 centimeters) in downtown San Francisco.

“It looks like yesterday was the 4th wettest day ever for downtown SF where records go back to the Gold Rush years,” the weather service said.

About 150 miles (241 kilometers) to the north, the California Highway Patrol closed a stretch of State Route 70 in Butte and Plumas counties because of multiple landslides within the massive Dixie Fire burn scar.

A motorist surveys floodwaters from Lake Madrone crossing Oro Quincy Highway on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, in Butte County, Calif. The area burned in 2020's North Complex Fire.

A motorist surveys floodwaters from Lake Madrone crossing Oro Quincy Highway on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, in Butte County, Calif. The area burned in 2020's North Complex Fire.

(AP Photo/Noah Berger)

In the state’s Central Valley, Sacramento got 5.4 inches (13.7 centimeters) of rain, smashing the all-time one-day rainfall record dating to 1880, the weather service said. Interstate 80, the major highway through the Sierra to Reno, Nevada, was shut down by heavy snow early Monday.

The same storm system also slammed Oregon and Washington state, causing power outages that affected tens of thousands of people. Two people were killed when a tree fell on a vehicle in the greater Seattle area.

In California’s Colusa and Yolo counties, state highways 16 and 20 were shut for several miles because of mudslides, the state Department of Transportation said.

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Burn areas remain a concern because land devoid of vegetation can’t soak up heavy rainfall as quickly, increasing the likelihood of flash flooding.

“If you are in the vicinity of a recent burn scar and haven’t already, prepare now for likely debris flows,” the Sacramento weather service tweeted. “If you are told to evacuate by local officials, or you feel threatened, do not hesitate to do so. If it is too late to evacuate, get to higher ground.”

South of San Francisco, evacuation orders were in effect in the Santa Cruz Mountains over concerns that several inches of rain could trigger debris flows in the CZU Lightning Complex Fire burn scar when the storm moves through early Monday.

Further south, evacuation warnings for parts of western Santa Barbara County were upgraded to evacuation orders in the area burned by this month’s Alisal Fire.

Officials said mountain areas above 9,000 feet (2,745 meters) in the Sierra Nevada could get 18 inches (46 centimeters) of snow or more from Sunday until Monday morning.

Recent storms have helped contain some of the nation’s largest wildfires this year. But it remains to be seen if the wet weather will make a dent in the drought that’s plaguing California and the western United States.

California’s climate is hotter and drier now and that means the rain and snow that does fall is more likely to evaporate and less likely to absorb into the soil.

California’s 2021 water year, which ended Sept. 30, was the second driest on record and last year’s was the fifth driest on record. Some of the state’s most important reservoirs are at record low levels.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

Ontario NDP bill looks to protect gig workers

A new bill from the Ontario NDP is looking to protect workers who miss out on minimum wage, vacation days and other workplace rights due to being classified as gig workers.

The classification is common for people who work for Uber and Lyft, in sectors such as food production and shipping, and among delivery drivers, cleaners and home health-care workers.

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“My bill would amend the Employment Standards Act to make Ontario the first province in Canada to legislate the gold-standard ‘ABC test’ for working classification,” said London West MPP Peggy Sattler during an unveiling of the bill on Monday morning.

The test was first popularized by California and requires employers to answer three questions to determine whether a worker should be considered an employee and not an independent contractor.

The questions are as follows:

Part A: Is the worker free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact?

Part B: Does the worker perform work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business?

Part C: Is the worker customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed for the hiring entity?

“Instead of making workers responsible for proving that they are not independent contractors, a legally complex and difficult process, the test puts the onus on employers to prove that a worker is not an employee,” Sattler said.

“Of course, we know that there are many freelancers, entrepreneurs and other contact workers who are legitimate independent contractors, which is why my bill also sets out the criteria for bona fide business-to-business contracting relationships.”

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The goal of the bill is to grant rights and protections under the Employment Standards Act to those who are currently missing out, an objective that’s been sought by other labour activists including the Canadian Labour Congress.

Places like Denmark, Italy, Spain, the U.K. and California have passed rulings that recognize gig workers as employees.

In August, Ontario’s Superior Court certified a class-action lawsuit against Uber Technologies Inc. that’s tied to the company’s refusal to classify its couriers and drivers as workers.

The class action filed in 2017 by Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, with Uber Eats driver David Heller as representative plaintiff, argues Uber couriers should be entitled to minimum wage, vacation pay and other protections because they meet the definition of employees under Ontario’s Employment Standards Act.

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When asked about how many gig workers there are in Ontario, Sattler said there is a lack of accurate data, but “estimates are as high as 10 per cent.”

“What we have certainly seen during the pandemic is an explosion in those kinds of gig jobs. It’s the Uber Eats and the Skip The Dishes, those kinds of workers that we have relied on … to deliver food, to deliver medications, ” Sattler said.

“These are the people who have been the backbone of our society over the last 19 months of COVID-19.”

— with files from The Canadian Press

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

COVID-19: N.S. reports 1 death, 57 new cases over past 3 days

Nova Scotia health officials said on Tuesday that an outbreak has been declared at Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville after three patients in a non-COVID unit tested positive for COVID-19. Alyson Lamb with Nova Scotia Health said the outbreak has not led to a reduction in service.

Nova Scotia reported one death, 57 new COVID-19 cases, and 63 recoveries since the last update on Friday.

The province said a man in his 70s in Western Zone died as a result of the virus.

Of the new cases, there are 29 in Central Zone, 17 in Northern Zone, 10 in Western Zone and one case in Eastern Zone.

Also, the province said five patients in a non-COVID unit at Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville have now tested positive for virus as part of an outbreak at the facility. One person is in intensive care.

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Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) said it continues to test patients at the hospital, as well as staff and doctors identified as close contacts.

“As a precaution, NSHA has made testing available for staff and doctors on site who want to get tested,” the province said in a release.

As of Monday, Nova Scotia has 152 active cases of COVID-19. Of those, 11 people are in hospital, including two in ICU.

Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs completed 2,269 tests on October 22; 2,599 tests on October 23; and 2,056 tests on October 24.

As of Sunday, 1,562,774 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered. Of those, 755,858 Nova Scotians have received their second dose and 1,037 eligible Nova Scotians have received a third dose.

Since Aug. 1, there have been 1,369 positive COVID-19 cases and five deaths. There are 1,212 resolved cases.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Woman charged in 2020 death of Saskatoon toddler

A 37-year-old woman has been charged with second-degree murder in relation to the death of a two-year-old boy in July 2020.

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At around 11:30 a.m. on July 8, an unresponsive two-year-old was reported to police at an apartment in the 100 block of Avenue T South. 

The boy was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

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The charges were laid following an autopsy and an investigation that involved the SPS child abuse unit and the Ministry of Social Services, as well as consultation with medical professionals and crown prosecutors.

The woman’s first court appearance was on Monday morning and has been remanded to Oct. 27.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

MPPs ask integrity commissioner to investigate Hillier's social media posts

Two Ontario MPPs are asking the Ontario legislature’s integrity commissioner to investigate recent social media posts published by independent MPP Randy Hillier.

Peggy Sattler, MPP for London West and official opposition house leader, along with Catherine Fife, MPP for Waterloo, submitted a letter to the commissioner Friday, deriding the Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston MPP, who recently posted several deceased people’s names and faces to social media falsely claiming they died from the COVID-19 vaccine.

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Neither Fife nor Sattler would be interviewed for this story. Instead, they pointed to their letter in response to the request.

“Mr. Hillier has shown contempt for his role as an elected member, and disrespected these grieving families and their loved ones,” the letter states.

Both MPPs called Hillier’s social media posts an “egregious and reprehensible breach of Ontario parliamentary convention.”

Last week, Global News spoke with friends and family members of those shown in Hillier’s posts who vehemently denied their loved ones died from vaccine complications. They told Global News they were outraged to see their friends and family’s faces being used for anti-vaccine messaging without their knowledge or consent.

 

When faced with these criticisms last week, Hillier sent out a statement doubling down on his convictions, calling on the OPP to investigate the deaths of those he named in his posts.

In their letter, Sattler and Fife say Hillier contravened the Members’ Integrity Act and Ontario parliamentary convention by sharing these people’s information.

“As members of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, it is our job to respect, protect and advocate for our communities, not to use Ontarians’ personal information without their consent to push forward a dangerous, anti-science agenda,” the letter reads.

The two NDP MPPs asked the integrity to hold the rural Ontario politician “to account.”

This is not the first case the integrity commissioner will hear about Hillier allegedly sharing constituent information. In fact, this will be the second integrity commissioner complaint filed against Hillier in just over a month.

Hillier’s neighbouring counterpart, Kingston and the Islands MPP Ian Arthur, filed his own complaint after Hillier allegedly signed up at least two of his constituents for his No More Lockdown group and PPC mailing lists, using information they say he got while helping them with other matters, such as filing for birth certificates.

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Arthur is not involved in the latest complaint, but spoke to Global News on Friday, saying one of the family members of a person shown in Hillier’s post reached out to Arthur last week.

“They said, ‘I just want to grieve in peace,'” he said.

“They lost a loved one, and to have, without any form of consent or even being informed that it was happening at all, been thrust in the public light like that, and to have it displayed prominently for a period of time — you can’t do that,” he said.

As for the integrity commissioner complaint, Arthur says the process has several steps, including notifying the Speaker of the House.

He added that only an MPP can file a complaint on behalf of a constituent, and that person must consent to be part of what will eventually become a public process if the matter is taken up by the commissioner’s office.

The office says it has received the letter from the two MPPs and has responded with next steps.

Arthur’s complaint is currently under review.

Hillier has yet to respond to a request for comment.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Driver killed in Ottawa south crash: police

A driver was killed Monday morning in a crash in the south end of Ottawa, police said.

Two cars collided around 7:20 a.m. at Snake Island Road near Nixon Road, an Ottawa Police Service spokesperson said.

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One of the drivers was pronounced dead at the scene, while two occupants of the other vehicle were treated for minor injuries, according to police.

The deceased was not identified and the spokesperson said the investigation is ongoing with no further information available.

Snake Island Road remained closed between Doyle and Nixon roads on Monday afternoon.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Scott Moe to give State of the Province address

WATCH: Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is expected to provide a State of the Province address at 12 p.m. on Oct. 25, 2021.

A State of the Province address is expected to be given by the premier of Saskatchewan on Monday.

Scott Moe is scheduled to deliver the speech at 12 p.m. at Prairieland Park in Saskatoon.

Few details were given by the provincial government about this event.

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On Oct. 22, Federal Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair announced on Twitter that the federal government approved a request for assistance from the provincial government.

“The (Canadian Forces) will provide communities the support they need to fight the pandemic,” the tweet stated.

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A spokesperson from National Defence said it was prepared to send up to six critical care nursing officers to help Saskatchewan’s ICUs.

On Oct. 24, the government’s dashboard showed 74 COVID-19 patients in intensive care, 2,963 active cases and the death toll at 817. Saskatchewan’s seven-day average of new daily infections is 274.

Global News will stream the press conference live on our website.

More to come…

— with files from Kelly Skjerven

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Lion Electric Co. receives conditional order for 1,000 electric school buses

The Lion Electric Co. says it has received a conditional order for 1,000 electric school buses from Student Transportation of Canada, whose parent company is controlled by Quebec’s pension fund manager.

The order, whose value hasn’t been specified, is conditional on receiving “satisfactory” non-repayable grants from Infrastructure Canada’s Zero Emission Public Transit Fund.

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Quebec unveils detailed plan to electrify most school buses by 2030

Ottawa has announced plans to provide $2.75 billion over the next five years to support the electrification of public transit and school transportation.

Deliveries would begin in 2022 and continue until the first half of 2026.

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The electric buses would replace diesel vehicles within STC’s fleet of more than 16,000 vehicles and allow it to become North America’s largest zero-emission school bus operator.

Quebec-based Lion says the 1,000 electric buses would eliminate up to 23,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases per year and help the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec to meet the decarbonization goals for its portfolio.

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© 2021 The Canadian Press

Two Toronto men charged after weapons, drugs seizure during traffic stop in Peterborough: police

A traffic stop in Peterborough on Saturday night led to the seizure of handguns, drugs and the arrest of two 20-year-old Toronto men.

According to the Peterborough Police Service, around 8:30 p.m., an officer observed a “near-miss” collision at the intersection of Simcoe Street and George Street North.

The officer conducted a traffic stop for one of the vehicles. The investigation revealed the driver was currently suspended from driving, and he was arrested.

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One man attempted to escape while being searched, police said, but they gained control, and then located two loaded handguns and an ammo magazine in his possession. A passenger in the vehicle was found in possession of a spring-loaded knife.

A search of the vehicle uncovered 21 grams of heroin, 18 grams of crack cocaine, cash and a cellphone.

Tyrek Powell and Aaliyah Abdalla, both 20 and both of Toronto, were arrested and each charged with carrying a concealed weapon and being an occupant of a motor vehicle knowing there was a firearm.

Powell was additionally charged with:

  • possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose
  • two counts of trafficking a schedule 1 substance
  • possession of a prohibited or restricted firearm with ammunition
  • unauthorized possession of a firearm
  • careless storage of a firearm, weapons, or prohibited device or ammunition
  • possession of proceeds of property obtained by crime under $5,000
  • resisting a peace officer
  • driving while under suspension

He was held in custody, appeared in court on Sunday and was remanded into custody for another court appearance on Tuesday.

Abdalla was also charged with possession of a prohibited device or ammunition. He was held in custody for a court appearance on Sunday, when he was released and ordered to appear in court in Peterborough on Nov. 2.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Greenhouse gas levels hit record high in 2020, UN reports

WATCH: Calls for urgent action ahead of COP26 summit aimed at setting new climate goals

Greenhouse gas concentrations hit a new record high last year and increased at a faster rate than the annual average for the last decade despite a temporary reduction during pandemic lockdowns, the World Meteorological Organization said in a report published Monday.

The news came as the United Nations climate office warned that the world remains off target for meeting its goal of cutting emissions as part of international efforts to curb global warming.

Both announcements came days before the start of a U.N. climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland. Many environmental activists, policymakers and scientists say the Oct. 31-Nov. 12 event, known as COP26 for short, marks an important and even crucial opportunity for concrete commitments to the targets set out in the 2015 Paris climate accord.

“The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin contains a stark, scientific message for climate change negotiators at COP26,” World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said of his agency’s annual report on heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. “At the current rate of increase in greenhouse gas concentrations, we will see a temperature increase by the end of this century far in excess of the Paris agreement targets of 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius (2.7-3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.”

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According to the report, concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide were all above levels in the pre-industrial era before 1750, when human activities “started disrupting Earth’s natural equilibrium.”

The report draws on information collected by a network that monitors the amount of greenhouse gases that remain in the atmosphere after some quantities are absorbed by oceans and the biosphere.

In its report, the Geneva-based agency also pointed to signs of a worrying new development: Parts of the Amazon rainforest have gone from being a carbon “sink” that sucks carbon dioxide from the air to a source of CO2 due to deforestation and reduced humidity in the region, it said.

“One of the striking messages from our report is that the Amazonian region, which used to be a sink of carbon, has become a source of carbon dioxide,” Taalas said. “And that’s because of deforestation. It’s because of changes of the global local climate, especially. We have less humidity and less rainfall.”

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Oksana Tarasova, chief of WMO’s atmospheric and environment research division, said the results showing the Amazon going from sink to source were a first, but he noted they were from a specific southeastern portion of the Amazon, not the entire rainforest.

The U.N. climate office said separately Monday that its assessment of the formal commitments made by countries that signed up to the Paris accord suggests the world could reduce its emissions by 83-88% by 2050 compared with 2019.

More worryingly, emissions in 2030 are projected to be 16% higher than in 2010, based on formal pledges so far.

“Such an increase, unless changed quickly, may lead to a temperature rise of about 2.7C (4.9F) by the end of the century,” the U.N. said.

Experts argued that emissions must halve by 2030 compared with 2010 levels and essentially hit zero by mid-century, if the Paris goal of capping global warming at 2C, ideally no more than 1.5C, is to be achieved.

“Overshooting the temperature goals will lead to a destabilized world and endless suffering, especially among those who have contributed the least to the GHG emissions in the atmosphere,” said Patricia Espinosa, who heads the U.N. climate office.

“We are nowhere near where science says we should be,” she added.

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Alok Sharma, who will preside over the U.N. talks in Glasgow, said progress had been made since the Paris deal was struck in 2015, when projections of existing emissions cuts pointed to warming of up to 4C.

The global average concentration of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, hit a new high of 413.2 parts per million last year, according to the WMO report. The 2020 increase was higher than the annual average over the last decade despite a 5.6% drop in carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels due to COVID-19 restrictions, WMO said.

Taalas said a level above 400 parts per million – which was breached in 2015 — “has major negative repercussions for our daily lives and well-being, for the state of our planet and for the future of our children and grandchildren.”

Human-incurred carbon dioxide emissions, which result mostly from burning fossil fuels like oil and gas or from cement production, amount to about two-thirds of the warming effect on the climate. WMO said overall, an economic retreat last year because of the pandemic “did not have any discernible impact on the atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases and their growth rates, although there was a temporary decline in new emissions.”

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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