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MacLeod says she ‘doesn’t recall’ comments to autism group as parents protest outside her office

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There appears to be a stalemate on both sides of the autism issue in Ontario. Children, Community and Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod apologized for remarks she made to an autism group but vowed she won’t back down from funding changes.

That, as parents protested outside her Ottawa office again vowing to keep coming until she does.Minister Lisa MacLeod helped launch Kindness Week at an event in Ottawa today.

 A few blocks away at her constituency office parents of children with autism say they weren’t feeling the kindness.

The Minister joined the Tamir Neshama choir in a lively rendition of Lean on Me at the launch of Kindness Week; an event held at Accora Village in Ottawa’s west end.

“The best way to show compassion in society is to help other people,” MacLeod told the crowd.

The Minister said that is what governments do and why she’s committed to proceeding with her changes to autism funding in order to eliminate a long waitlist for therapy.

“We’re going to proceed with the plan,” she told reporters after the event.

Thursday night, MacLeod tweeted out an apology for comments she’s alleged to have made to the Ontario Association for Behavior Analysis saying it would be a long four years if the organization didn’t support the funding changes but today, MacLeod said, “I can’t recall (if I said that to them) which is why I put the apology out.”

MacLeod was joined at Kindness Week by the PC MPP for Ottawa West-Nepean, Jeremy Roberts. His brother Dillon, who is now 25, has autism and while this is an issue close to his heart, Roberts supports his government’s decision.

“My goal in all this,” Roberts told reporters, “the reason I ran for office in the first place is so that families don’t end up in crisis like my family did when I was 15 years old.”

Which is exactly what families protesting outside Lisa MacLeod’s office say is going to happen.

“In 3 months’ time we are going to be put out in cold,” Kerry Monaghan said.  She has two children on the autism spectrum, “We will not have any help from the government which claims to be interested in wellbeing of those children.  We need that help. That’s not what’s happening.”

And while MacLeod says she won’t change her mind, parents say they won’t either.

“We won’t back down,” says Emily Sheridan, whose 5-year-old son Oliver is receiving 25 hours a week of funding, “You’re looking at parents who are tired, emotionally exhausted on a regular basis, and they’ll still stand out here any chance they get to show this is the wrong decision.”

Minister MacLeod admits this is an emotional issue; no one would disagree with that.  But the two sides are miles apart on any other part of this and on where they go from here.

 

 

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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa

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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

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Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV

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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.

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

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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.

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“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.

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