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‘I didn’t know what would happen to me’: Students describe carbon monoxide poisoning incident at LaSalle school

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About 50 students and staff at École des Découvreurs in LaSalle were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning Monday, after the toxic gas leaked from the school’s faulty heating system.

Officials from the Marguerite-Bourgeoys school board say the school will reopen Wednesday, now that repairs have been made to the heating system and a new carbon monoxide detector has been installed.

Here is what two students, and a parent, had to say about Monday’s experience.

Lourdes Berindoague, Grade 4 student

Her classmates and those in the classroom across from hers started to feel sick Monday morning.

“We saw a girl that was raising her hand to give a response, and then she fell from her chair,” said Lourdes.

“She fainted … at the same time another girl in the class was vomiting, she went quickly to the garbage bin,” she said.

She said another boy said he was not feeling well and went to the bathroom.

“He was there for a long time, so we asked two students to see what happened. He had fainted,” she said.

“I was scared. I didn’t know if it would happen to me. I was sad for my friends.”

Isabella Thornton, Grade 4 student

“While we were getting our [winter] clothes on, most of the kids fainted,” she said.

“One of them fainted while I was holding their hand.”

When students started fainting, she said everyone was standing around them, unsure what had happened to them.

“There was one, she hit her head on the wall…. She fainted in front of the whole classroom,” she said.

Those like Isabella, who were not showing symptoms, walked to nearby École Notre-Dame-des-Rapides, where they watched a movie and had pizza and juice as they waited for their parents to pick them up.

She said she felt a little bit sick, but is now feeling better.

Angie Velasquez-Thornton with her daughters Evangeline, left, and Isabella. (Kate McKenna/CBC Montreal)

Angie Velasquez-Thornton, mother of Isabella, 9, and Evangeline, 6

“I’m just thankful that everyone’s OK,” she said.

Isabella came home with a headache, so she gave her some Tylenol. They invited her friend Lourdes over during their day off Tuesday, as the school underwent inspections.

“I think that our school will be the safest school now, because there’s no way that this is going to happen twice,” she said.

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Federal Budget 2021: Ottawa adds $1B to broadband fund for rural, remote communities

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The federal government will add $1 billion to a fund for improving high-speed communications in rural and remote areas of Canada, bringing the total to $2.75 billion by 2026, the Liberals said Monday in their first full budget since the pandemic began last year.

The money is going to the Universal Broadband Fund, which is designed to support the installation of “backbone” infrastructure that connects underserved communities to high-speed internet.

It’s one of many government and private-sector initiatives that have gained urgency since the pandemic began, as Canadians became more dependent on internet service for applications ranging from e-learning to daily business operations.

Ottawa says the additional money will keep it on track to have high-speed broadband in 98 per cent of the country by 2026, and 100 per cent by 2030.

Money spent on high-speed communications will be good for a recovering economy, said Pedro Antunes, chief economist at the Conference Board of Canada, a non-partisan think-tank.

The latest data from Statistics Canada says there were about five million people working from home during the pandemic, up from about two million prior to that, Antunes said in an interview.

“That’s a quarter or so of the workforce,” he added. “And I think a fair number of those people are going to continue to work from home, at least in some part-time way.”

Improved connections to high-speed broadband and mobile communications will add to the productive capacity of the economy overall, especially as it reaches beyond Canada’s cities, Antunes said.

He said there’s been a “real issue” with economic growth outside major urban centres and the improved connectivity “is something that can help stimulate that.”

The Universal Broadband Fund was initially mentioned in the 2019 budget, though specifics were not available until last November’s fiscal update.

The $1-billion top-up to the broadband fund announced today is in addition to $1.75 billion promised to the fund by the federal government’s November fiscal update.

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COVID-19: What you need to know for April 19

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Provincewide

  • Per today’s government report, there are 4,447 new cases in Ontario, for a total of 421,442 since the pandemic began; 2,202 people are in hospital, 755 of them in intensive care, and 516 on ventilators. To date, 7,735 people have died.
  • According to data from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, there are 40 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 36 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 127 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 3,755 confirmed resident deaths and 11 confirmed staff deaths.
  • Per the government’s report on Ontario’s vaccination program, as of 7 p.m. yesterday, Ontario has administered 66,897 new doses of COVID-19 vaccines, for a total of 3,904,778 since December 2020. 3,212,768 people have received only one dose, and 346,005 people have received both doses.

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Federal budget 2021 highlights: Child care, recovery benefits, OAS increases – everything you need to know

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The federal government’s first budget in more than two years certainly looks the part: At 739 pages, it is a hefty document chock full of billions in new spending.

Those funds will be spread among a number of key groups – students, seniors, parents and small-business owners, to name a few – as Ottawa looks to bolster Canada’s recovery from COVID-19 but also plan for life beyond the pandemic.

To that end, the deficit is projected to hit $354.2-billion in the 2020-21 fiscal year, which just ended – better than expected about five months ago, given the economy’s resilience over the winter months. It is estimated to fall to $154.7-billion this fiscal year, before dropping further in the years to come as pandemic spending recedes from view.

Here are some of the highlights from Monday’s budget.

The budget outlines tens of billions of dollars in federal subsidies for a national child-care program, a promise the Liberal Party has made in some form since the early 1990s. Child-care supports became a point of national debate during pandemic lockdowns as parents with young children struggled to juggle work and family responsibilities.

In total, the government proposes spending as much as $30-billion over the next five years, and $8.3-billion each year after that, to bring child-care fees down to a $10-a-day average by 2026. The proposal, which requires negotiation with the provinces and territories, would split subsidies evenly with those governments and targets a 50-per-cent reduction in average child-care fees by the end of 2022.

The federal program is largely modelled on Quebec’s subsidized child-care system, implemented in the 1990s in an effort to increase women’s access to the labour market. Since then, labour participation rates for women aged 25 to 54 in the province have grown to exceed the national average by four percentage points.

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