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‘I couldn’t believe it’: University of Alberta evicted student after attempt to kill himself





Hallways at the University of Alberta are decorated with posters with reassuring slogans such as “Love yourself” and “Take a break and find balance.”

One U of A student in Edmonton says that when he walks by the slogans, he feels as if it’s all for show.

In the fall of 2016, the 18-year-old tried for the second time to take his own life. After his second discharge from hospital in less than a month, a university administrator came to meet him.

But instead of offering help, the staff member handed him a notice of eviction from his residence.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said the student, who told his story to Radio-Canada. CBC News is calling him Eric to protect his identity.

“I was being evicted for trying to attempt suicide. I hadn’t put anyone else in danger.”

Eric was told he had to move out of his campus residence because he had violated his residency agreement. The agreement states that “the resident will not endanger persons or damage property in the premises and residence.”

The student was told he had to move out of his campus residence because he had violated his residency agreement. (Supplied/Name withheld by request)

The administrator handed the student a trespass notice and an eviction letter that said: “You admitted to attempting to commit self-harm within your residence and this was the second attempt.”

The letter also said: “The type of example your actions support have no place in an academic learning environment.”

Eric said he had experienced symptoms of depression since his early teen years, but at university his symptoms worsened. “Things suddenly felt meaningless,” he said.

He first attempted suicide in his second year of university. Police intervened and took him to hospital. After he was discharged, the U of A gave him a list of phone numbers to call if he needed help.

“I never gave it [another] thought to contact those people,” he said. He said the help he was offered was based on an assumption that his actions were a cry for help, not a serious suicide attempt.

One week later, he still had constant thoughts of dying, he said. He tried again to take his own life.

Again, police took him to hospital. When he returned to his dorm, staff had booked him a hotel room for the night and told him they would meet with him the next morning, he said. That’s when the university took action.

Decision without explanation

Officials at the U of A haven’t explained how the decision could have been approved.

In an interview this month, André Costopoulos, dean of students, said there is no policy that includes “considering self-harm or actively self-harming” as a reason to ban a student from a campus residence.

Costopoulos wouldn’t comment on the specifics of Eric’s case, but said it’s possible the decision was based on erroneous information.

Two weeks after Eric’s eviction, the same administrator who gave him the letter emailed him about reconsidering the previous decision.

But Eric said the damage was done.

“I just felt like I needed a safe place to stay where I could try to work this out in my head, where I can feel comfortable,” he said. “They took that away from me.”

‘Never justifiable, never acceptable’

The University of Alberta Students’ Union said the eviction is unacceptable.

A letter like the one Eric received is “never justifiable, never acceptable,” Andre Bourgeois, vice-president of student life, said in an interview this month.

Bourgeois said the students’ union is aware of more than one case when a student was evicted under similar circumstances.

He said that he’s concerned that a recent directive from Alberta Advanced Education to have the province provide clinical care services for students will make it harder for school staff to make decisions in the best interests of students with mental health issues.

“I wouldn’t say that I’m confident that the university will never make another mistake when it comes to suicide or mental health,” Bourgeois said.

Students vulnerable

Mara Grunau, executive director of the Calgary-based Centre for Suicide Prevention, said suicidal thoughts are almost always the result of multiple factors, but students can be particularly vulnerable to certain stresses.

“What we typically see with students is the pressure they feel to achieve,” Grunau said.

“It can also be pressure from living away from home for the first time.”

Symptoms of mental illness also often reveal themselves in late adolescence, she said.

Since 2017, five University of Alberta students have died from suicide.

Still a student, Eric has sought psychiatric help and continues to fight his depression.

If you are dealing with thoughts of suicide you can call the 24-hour Canada-wide crisis service hotline: 1-833-456-4566.


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Ottawa sets monthly record for total COVID-19 cases with 99 new cases on Friday





Sixteen days into October, Ottawa has already set the record for most cases of COVID-19 in a single month.

Ottawa Public Health reported 99 new cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa today, and three more deaths linked to novel coronavirus.

Ontario’s Ministry of Health had reported 108 new cases of COVID-19, but there is sometimes a lag in COVID-19 case reporting between Ontario and Ottawa Public Health. On Wednesday, Ontario reported 39 new cases in Ottawa, while Ottawa Public Health reported 45 new cases.

There have been 1,511 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa in October, surpassing the September record of 1,413 new cases.

Since the first case of COVID-19 on March 11, there have been 5,908 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, including 301 deaths.

Across Ontario, there are 712 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. Health Minister Christine Elliott reported 213 new cases in Toronto, 135 in Peel Region and 62 in York Region.


One more person was admitted to an Ottawa hospital with COVID-19 related illnesses on Friday.

Ottawa Public Health reports 47 people are currently in hospital with COVID-19, including eight in the intensive care unit.


The number of active cases of COVID-19 increased on Friday.

There are 792 active cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, up from 777 active cases on Thursday.

A total of 4,806 people have recovered after testing positive for COVID-19.

The number of active cases is the number of total laboratory-confirmed cases minus the numbers of resolved cases and deaths. A case is considered resolved 14 days after known symptom onset or positive test result.

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Ottawa mayor rejects possible return of Ottawa-Gatineau border checkpoints, ‘I really don’t think they work’





Mayor Jim Watson does not want to see police checkpoints return to the five interprovincial crossings between Ottawa and Gatineau, saying “I really don’t think they work.”

Earlier this week, Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin told the Ottawa Citizen that police checkpoints could return to the Ottawa-Gatineau border at “any time,” with the final decision in the hands of the Quebec Government. Earlier this month, Dr. Brigitte Pinard of the Centre Integre de sante et de services sociaux de l’Outaouais said border checkpoints were “possible,” adding “right now, our message is to limit large gatherings.”

When asked by CTV Morning Live host Leslie Roberts about the possibility of police checkpoints returning to the Ontario-Quebec border, Watson said he did not think they worked back in the spring.

“There were so many gaps when the police were not there, and people just figured out I’ll go at an earlier time or a later time. We saw police officers sticking their heads in the car with no masks, so that was not healthy for those individuals,” said Watson Friday morning.

“It’s a costly expense when our police are stretched already to the limit trying to do the work, to have them set up at five different bridge points potentially 24 hours a day would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars every month and I think the money is better spent.”

On April 1, Gatineau Police and the Surete du Quebec set up checkpoints along the Ottawa-Gatineau border to limit non-essential trips into Gatineau. Gatineau Police estimated the random police checkpoints between April 1 and May 17 cost the service more than $400,000.

Mayor Watson tells CTV Morning Live that the Quebec Government’s decision to move Gatineau into the “red zone” two days after Ontario moved Ottawa to a modified Stage 2 should help.

“We are a close relationship and when things happen in Gatineau there’s often a trickle effect over here and I think the fact that we’re both in the red zone, and Quebec of course is the worst hit province, at least levels the playing field for our restaurants and bars,” said Watson.

“I think in the past what had happened was our restaurants and bars would close and then the ones in Gatineau would stay open, and then people from Ottawa would go over there irresponsibly, in my opinion, and then come back potentially with the virus and spread it here.”

While border checkpoints would limit the non-essential travel across the Ottawa-Gatineau border, Watson says that’s not the way to beat COVID-19.

“The message is very clear, stick to your household. This is not the time to have an AirBNB party or a keg party in your backyard, or have 20 people or 30 people in for an engagement party. I know a lot of these get-togethers are important socially for people and emotionally, but we have to ask people to be reasonable and responsible, and this is not the year to do those kinds of things.”

Roberts asked the mayor if he would have a conversation about border checkpoints with Gatineau’s mayor.

“I had it the first go-around, but at the end of the day I also respect their jurisdiction and their autonomy. It is the province that would have to impose that, not the municipality,” said Watson.

“From our perspective, we don’t think it’s an effective use of resources. We want to continue to get the message across that we can win this battle against COVID-19 if we socially distance, we wear a mask, we actually follow the simple rules that are put forward.”

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Ottawa woman breaks 14-day quarantine rule to work at long-term care home: police





OTTAWA — A 53-year-old Ottawa woman is facing charges under the federal Quarantine Act after Ottawa police say she failed to self-isolate for 14 days after travelling abroad and returned to work at a long-term care home.

Ottawa Police say information was received indicating that an Ottawa woman had travelled abroad. She returned to Canada on Sept. 26, so she was required under federal law to quarantine for 14 days, until Oct. 9

“The woman decided not to respect this order and went to work on Sept. 30 at a long-term health facility in Ottawa,” police said in a news release. “When management was apprised of the situation, she was immediately sent home. The facility immediately activated mitigating self-isolation and cleaning protocols and informed all persons that had been in contact with the subject.”

Police say none of the residents of the long-term care facility have tested positive for COVID-19 as a result of the woman attending work.

Ottawa police say this is the first person they have charged under the Quarantine Act during the pandemic.

The woman is charged with failing to comply with entry condition under section 58 of the Quarantine Act and cause risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm under section 67 of the Quarantine Act.

The maximum penalty for causing risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm is a $1 million fine and three years in prison. For failing to self-isolate for 14 days, she faces a $750,000 fine and up to six months in jail.

Police did not release the name of the woman, nor where she worked. The woman is due in court on Nov. 24.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson’s office issued a statement following the announcement of the charges.

“Mayor Watson was disturbed to learn about the alleged carelessness of the individual in question. This type of reckless behaviour could have harmed their colleagues, and more importantly, the residents of the long term care home. We must all do our part to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”

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