Connect with us


Amber Alerts work. So why are people complaining about them?




By phone, email, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and yes, even 911, Ontarians have been contacting the Peel Regional Police by the hundreds to complain about Thursday’s late-night electronic Amber Alert.

Constable Akhil Mooken, who works in media relations for the department, said the calls started as soon as the organization issued the alert at 11:36 p.m. and kept coming well into Friday morning. He said Peel’s 911 dispatchers received 124 calls—mostly complaints—in the first hour alone, logging 383 total calls by 9:30 a.m. the next day.

“It’s certainly a large amount. It’s something I’ve never experienced,” Mooken said. “While I understand it’s an inconvenience to people, I hope they realize the purpose of the Amber Alert.”

Tragically, Riya Rajkumar, the missing 11-year-old girl, was found dead in this case. But the Amber Alert served at least part of its purpose. Within a few minutes, a driver spotted the car mentioned in the alert and used 911 the way it was intended. He stayed on the phone to provide dispatchers with the vehicle’s location 110 kilometres away in Oro-Medonte until the Ontario Provincial Police arrived and made an arrest.

READ MORE: You are horrible people

Still the whole episode sparked a huge reaction on both sides, with many Canadians angrily taking to social media to denounce those angrily taking to social media to denounce the alert. Hamilton Bean, a professor at the University of Colorado Denver and an expert on electronic alert systems, said the backlash is part of the growing pains of a relatively new system.

“These alerts can save lives, but we have to give public safety officials a little more grace in perhaps over-alerting the public,” Bean said. “It looks like perhaps that was done in this case with the Amber Alert.”

Of those who called to complain, Mooken said most were simply expressing anger they were woken up on a work night despite turning their ringers off or putting their phones in Do Not Disturb mode. Some had more legitimate complaints, such as that they were hours away from the crisis with little realistic chance of offering any help.

Canada implemented its system for mobile electronic alerts last April, requiring cellphone carriers to distribute the messages to consumers in emergencies. It’s impossible to opt out of the loud, persistent warnings, which include both messages warning about imminent disasters and Amber Alerts to help locate missing children.

Thursday’s Amber Alert was only the second ever to be sent to Ontario cellphones since the system was implemented last April. The other alert occurred during the day, resulting in fewer complaints from people over sleep disruption.

Designated government agencies and police services have the ability to log into software provided by the Oakville, Ont.-based company Pelmorex and specify who they want the alert distributed to and by what means. In Ontario, Amber Alerts are always distributed to cellphone customers throughout the entire province.

RELATED: We need to stop worrying and just let our kids play

Martin Belanger, director of public alerting with Pelmorex, said the company was investigating complaints from cellphone customers in Manitoba who said they received the Ontario alert. “We’re currently working with all our partners, including the distributors, to determine the cause,” he said.

In the U.S., cellphone customers can opt out of Amber Alerts. Bean said he thinks it would be reasonable to allow Canadians to opt out of the missing child alerts but not warnings about things like natural disasters or terrorist attacks, which are broadcast through the same system.

“If Canada is going to continue to issue these Amber Alerts or they’re going to be issued with more frequency, I think you’re going to see a public debate about whether Amber Alerts should, in fact, be conflated with these imminent threat alerts for the public,” Bean said.

Mooken, the Peel Police constable, disagrees. “The more eyes we have out there looking for a vehicle or the individuals involved in an Amber Alert, the sooner we can try to resolve it and potentially reunite a child with a parent,” he said.

Something that seems beyond dispute is that 911 is not the appropriate place to complain about the electronic Amber Alerts.

“Nine-one-one is meant for emergencies. When people have a life-threatening emergency that affects themselves or someone else, that’s what it’s designed for,” Mooken said. “Being woken up for an Amber Alert is, in my opinion, not a good reason to call and complain.”



Source link

قالب وردپرس


List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa




With Ontario now in Step 3 of 2021 three-step plan for reopening, museums and other indoor attractions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Here is a list of Ottawa attractions you can visit starting July 16th.

Do remember to wear masks and buy tickets in advance.

Parliament Hill

Parliament’s Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovation.

You can join for tours of the Senate of Canada Building (2 Rideau Street), House of Commons at West Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill, and East Block at East Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill.

When: Grounds open; guided tours of Parliament are suspended through the summer of 2021.
Where: 111 Wellington Street, Downtown Ottawa

Continue Reading


Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV




A new AppleTV+ series set in a magical town that’s stuck in a neverending 1940s musical includes a pair of Ottawa siblings in the cast. 

Warren Yang and his sister, Ericka Hunter, play two of the singing, dancing residents of the village portrayed in Schmigadoon!, a small-screen series that takes its cues from classic musicals like Brigadoon, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music, and skewers them with the offbeat comedic mastery of Saturday Night Live. 

In fact, you’ll recognize many of the names from SNL, starting with executive producer Lorne Michaels, creator of the late-night, live-comedy sketch show. Schmigadoon! also stars SNL cast member Cecily Strong and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who hosted SNL in May. They play a New York couple who get lost on a hike and stumble into a strange town where everyone sings and dances. 

For Yang, a relative newcomer to show-biz, the series marks his television debut. For Hunter, the younger of his two older sisters, it’s the latest in a career path that began with dance lessons as a child more than 30 years ago. She attended Canterbury High School, Ottawa’s arts-focused secondary school. 

“Her dream was always to perform,” said Yang, 34, in an interview. “But that was never the path I thought was an option for me.” 

While his sister studied dance, Yang did gymnastics. He was an elite gymnast throughout his youth, ultimately leaving Merivale High School at 16 to train in Montreal, finishing high school through correspondence courses. He was a member of the Canadian National Team and received a scholarship to study at Penn State, majoring in marketing. 

A few years after graduation, Yang was working at an advertising agency in Toronto when he got a call from a Manhattan number. To his astonishment, they asked if he would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

Continue Reading


COVID-19: uOttawa to require vaccination for students living in residence




Vaccination will be mandatory for students who want to live in residence at the University of Ottawa this year, with proof of vaccination and at least one dose required before move-in, or within two weeks of doing so if they can’t secure a shot before arriving.

Those who can’t receive a vaccine for “health-related reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to submit a request for accommodation through the university’s housing portal, according to information on the university’s website.

Students with one dose living in residence will also have to receive their second dose “within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health.”

People who haven’t been granted an exemption and don’t get vaccinated or submit proof of having done so by the deadlines set out by the school will have their residence agreements terminated, uOttawa warns.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most (effective) means of protecting people and those around them,” reads a statement provided to this newspaper by uOttawa’s director of strategic communications, Patrick Charette.

Article content

“It is precisely for this reason that the University of Ottawa is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated. The University recognizes that some students may require accommodations for a variety of reasons and will be treating exceptions appropriately.”

Faculty, staff and students are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the statement notes.

“Ensuring a high vaccine coverage in all communities is critical to ensuring an ongoing decline in cases and ending the pandemic. This will be especially important with the return of students to post-secondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

Neither Carleton University nor Algonquin College is currently mandating vaccination for students living in residence, according to the websites for both schools. But uOttawa isn’t alone in its policy – Western University, Trent University, Durham College and Fanshawe College have all implemented similar requirements. Seneca College, in the GTA, is going even further, making vaccination mandatory for students and staff to come to campus, in-person, for the fall term.

Continue Reading